Premier, John Brumby, today launched an
Australian-first fire prediction and early warning system that will
deliver specific and detailed information on the spread of fires to
help protect the lives of Victorians in the event of a bushfire.
Mr Brumby outlined details of a new
fully-computerised, digital mapping system which will provide up to six
hours warning of the direction, speed and intensity of a fire within
minutes – instead of hours – of it being discovered.
The system, which integrates the existing
FireWeb system with an advanced computer mapping and fire simulation
system called Phoenix RapidFire, has been trialled for the past 12
months and will become a key tool in Victoria’s firefighting effort in
the upcoming bushfire season.
The Victorian Government will deliver $21.5
million to upgrade the FireWeb software and hardware to improve its
speed even further, improve its mapping capabilities and to provide
more comprehensive access for other firefighting agencies.
“Black Saturday highlighted that our mapping
and fire prediction systems needed improving. One of the key messages
from the Royal Commission was that early warning of bushfires plays an
extremely important role in making our community safer,” Mr Brumby said.
“This new technology is a world’s best-practice
computer system that integrates critical fire, Bureau of Meteorology
weather data, topographical information and on ground fuel data and
maps it immediately in digital format for use by fire authorities to
predict the path and intensity of fires.
“This will vastly improve the ability of fire
authorities to determine which communities will be impacted by fire and
deliver early and accurate warnings to them. This will happen within
minutes of the fire being discovered rather than what could have taken
“It will also assist fire incident management
teams in delivering information to firefighters on the ground to assist
them in their suppression efforts.”
Mr Brumby said information on FireWeb would
immediately be made available to fire authorities to inform public
warnings through One Source One Message, DSE and CFA websites and
delivered to media outlets that have a Memorandum of Understanding to
provide emergency warnings.
“Members of the community will be able to go to
those websites or turn on their televisions and radios and access the
warnings and information generated by FireWeb almost immediately after
a fire has been discovered,” he said.
The $21.5 million Victorian Government investment will:
- Further improve the speed and capacity of the system;
- Increase capacity of the software to allow greater access by partner agencies;
- Full backup of the system through new computer servers;
- Establishing a training program for incident controllers in fire prediction mapping; and,
- Allow better tracking of firefighting staff and fire vehicles.
The Minister for Environment and Climate
Change, Gavin Jennings said the FireWeb and Phoenix RapidFire system,
which was developed by Dr Kevin Tolhurst from the University of
Melbourne, had been praised by visiting firefighting teams from across
“This system has the capacity to calculate the
potential spread of fire across the landscape under different weather,
fuel load and fire suppression scenarios,” Mr Jennings said.
“Previously, predictions about fire behaviour
have been hand drawn on a map and which took more time to be entered
into our fire mapping system.
“We believe the new FireWeb system will provide
exactly the type of early warning information the Royal Commission
report said would help make Victoria safer.”
Mr Jennings said the FireWeb and Phoenix
RapidFire system was trialled as a pilot system last fire season and
would be live in time for this fire season.
“It will become the primary system for our bushfire response in Victoria,” he said.
The Minister for Police and Emergency Services,
Bob Cameron, said the FireWeb system brought together information from
across the fire services.
“As well as the DSE FireWeb is accessed by the
CFA and other partner agencies who are working on bushfires and planned
burns and can be accessed at remote locations by authorised users from
anywhere with internet access,” Mr Cameron said.
Mr Cameron said fire authorities would be able
to access information from FireWeb to enable warnings to be
disseminated to the public.
“The public external system will also allow the
community to access information on the location and timing of planned
burns. They will also be able to apply for automated information on
planned burns to be delivered to them via email or SMS,” he said.