Seminar series webinars

The Bushfire CRC launched a series of webinars in December 2013, featuring a selection of our leading researchers. The webinars, aimed at fire and emergency service staff and volunteers, provided opportunities for knowledge sharing, and supporting and encouraging the adoption of new research from the Bushfire CRC among AFAC member agencies. All past webinars are available for viewing on this page, or via the Bushfire CRC YouTube channel.

Learning lessons from disasters - Dr Michael Eburn, 12 December 2013

Emergency event after emergency event has led to inquiry after inquiry. We keep doing the same things but the latest research shows that royal commissions and other quasi-judicial inquiries post the event have failed to provide the answers in how to lessen the impacts and better prepare. This webinar explores the limitations and the international research which shows there are better approaches to post event review and evaluation. The recommended pre-reading is a four page Fire Note. Read it here.


Understanding decision making in emergencies - Professor Jim McLennan, 16 December 2013

Professor Jim McLennan is one of Australia’s foremost researchers into decision making in under extreme emergency situations, particularly bushfire. In this webinar Professor McLennan discusses the findings of extensive Bushfire CRC community research undertaken after some of Australia’s worst fires including Black Saturday fires in Victoria 2009, Perth Hills and Lake Clifton in WA in 2011 and the NSW fires in January 2013 at Coonabarabran, Yass and Shoalhaven. In this latter community-based research case-study, Professor McLennan and the Bushfire CRC team of researchers conducted 238 interviews to explore people’s preparation, decision making and actions during the fires where more than 50 homes were destroyed but not a single human life was lost. The NSW experience has given researchers a unique opportunity to take a close look at what people did before, during and after the fires, and to learn from their experiences. There are a number of four page Fire Notes on this topic. See Research findings from the January 2013 bushfires, Residents intentions and reasons in the face of bushfire, Community bushfire safety issues and Householders survival decisions.


Understanding air toxins at the rural/urban interface - Dr Fabienne Reisen, 13 January 2014

Dr Fabienne Reisen is project leader of the Operational readiness of rural firefighters - air toxins project. In this webinar Dr Reisen and her colleague Dr Michael Borgas focus on the understanding air toxins in the rural/urban interface and how air toxins can affect rural firefighters and emergency service workers in terms of impacts on health, and the protection measures that could be taken. The study identified and characterised potential hazards due to inhalation and exposure to air toxins while fighting bushfires that extend into the rural/urban interface. Central to the research was an assessment of whether concentrations of air toxins in the smoke could potentially impact firefighter’s health or safety, and the potential cumulative health impacts of repeated exposure to toxins in smoke. The recommended pre-reading is a four page Fire Note. Read it here.


Fire, weather, and understanding the extremes - Dr Jeff Kepert, 4 March 2014

Do you want to learn more about the science behind extreme fire weather and how this contributes to dangerous spotting? Dr Jeff Kepert led the Enhancement of weather predictions under extreme conditions project. In this webinar Dr Kepert explains what sort of weather leads to extreme and complex fire behaviour and the work undertaken to increase our understanding of how it occurs. Dr Kepert will talk about case studies of the cool change on Black Saturday (2009) and the Dunalley bushfire (2013), as well as detail the weather surrounding the Margaret River fire (2011) and modelling ember transport. The recommended pre reading is this article from Fire Australia, outlining the research.


Forest carbon management - Dr Chris Weston and Dr Luba Volkova - 26 March 2014

Fuel reduction burning is a common management practice in the eucalyptus forests that extend across large areas of southern Australia. The Environmental impact - prescribed and wildfire emissions management project, undertaken by Dr Chris Weston & Dr Luba Volkova (University of Melbourne) reports on findings from forty fuel reduction burns in these forests. Biomass was accurately measured before and immediately after fire to derive fuel loads. Experimental sites extended from warm temperate forests (Queensland) to cool temperate (Tasmania), included relatively dry forests (South Australia) and forests in Victoria.

The results of the study will allow fire managers to be more confident in the carbon balance outcomes of fuel reduction burning. They also open the possibility for better estimating fuel loads and their characteristics from relationships between forest net primary productivity, forest age and time since last fire. Reducing the risk of bushfire at a landscape scale is a top priority for fire and land managers in Australia and this research offers the prospect of generating more accurate fuel load and fuel structure predictions for fire management and emissions modelling, as well as understanding the impacts of climate variability on fuels. The recommended pre reading is this Fire Note, while more information is available on the project page.


Effectiveness of wildfire messages to New Zealand communities - Dr Lisa Langer 4 June 2014

In recent years, like many other parts of the world, New Zealand has incorporated social fire research on improving preparedness and recovery of communities following wildfires into its rural fire research program. This presentation, by Lisa Langer, investigates the effectiveness of communications of current fire messages to rural and rural/urban interface communities from three case studies in New Zealand.