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Researchers seek to reduce bushfire damage through business analytics

09 Apr 2014

Researchers at the Business School are currently developing a maths based strategy to reduce the damage caused by bushfires like those that recently devastated the Blue Mountains region to the west of Sydney.

NSW Bushfire

The researchers are working on a model which weighs a range of factors including existing forest fuel, rates of growth, terrain and fire management resources to develop an effective hazard minimisation plan.

"Most importantly, our model examines the interconnectivity between various areas of bush," says Senior Lecturer, Dr Dmytro Matsypura. "We can divide a region into cells, mathematically determine how a fire will spread and then treat each cell accordingly."

"Armed with this information, we can maximise the impact of the resources that are available and reduce fuel levels in areas where it will prove to be most effective to do so," he said. "Our model will take a lot of the guesswork out of fire management."

Dr Matsypura emphasised that the model is designed to help plan bushfire fuel management activities, such as prescribed burning.

"We focus on things that need to be done before the fire starts," he said. "This way we can reduce the severity of the fire, making it easier to contain and to minimise the threat to human life and property."

Dr Matsypura went on to say that he eventually hoped to have a version of the model that the Rural Fire Service can use to help plan their bushfire fuel management activities.

"Fire fighters will always need to consider conditions on the ground on the day," he said. "However we hope to provide them with a tool that will help in their decision making and then support the decisions they make."