The knowledge of a free-burning fire’s potential rate of spread is critical to safe and effective bushfire control and use. Models are regularly used in Australia in planning and during bushfire events to predict the rate of spread, direction, size and intensity of a fire as it propagates through the landscape.

Cover of the guide to rate of fire spread models

Cover of the guide to rate of fire spread models

A number of models for predicting the rate of fire spread in various Australian vegetation types have been developed over the past 60 years or so since Alan G. McArthur began his pioneering research into bushfire behaviour. Most of the major vegetation types in Australia have had more than one rate of fire spread model developed for operational use, leading to uncertainty to which models should be used.

This book, first published in 2015, presents, reviews and discusses these models and their applicability for operational use in prescribed burning and wildfire suppression in grasslands, shrublands, both dry and wet eucalypt forests, and in pine plantation fuel types.

Background information and a description of each rate of fire spread model is given, including the data used in the model development that constitute their application bounds. The mathematical equations that form each model are presented along with a discussion of model form and behaviour, the main input variables and their influence, and performance evaluation studies undertaken to date. Accompanying graphs, tables and photos are used throughout to illustrate key concepts.

This publication identifies those models that constitute the current state of our knowledge with respect to bushfire behaviour science in Australia. Recommendations are accordingly made on which models should underpin best practices for operational and scientific predictions of rate of fire spread in the near term and those that should now be discontinued and the reasons.

The Guide to Rate of Fire Spread Models for Australian Vegetation is now available for free download as an Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) file. This file is approximately 6 Mb and is a complete full colour digital version of the printed guide. The print version of the guide is still available from the AFAC bookshop.

Download a free PDF copy of the guide:



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