Firefighting software aims to save lives#

Firefighting software aims to save lives

12 December 2013

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Australia — Firefighters will be able to use bushfire prediction software to predict the speed, intensity and direction of fires this bushfire season.

The Aurora program – developed by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Landgate and University of WA – simulates bushfire behaviour to give firefighters the ability to plan ahead when battling potentially fast-moving and destructive blazes.

The $5.6 million project has been four years in the making, and was trialled during the last bushfire season.

It has also been used to simulate previous fires to verify the system’s complex mathematical algorithms.

Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said the program had the potential to be a game changer for firefighters.

He said it was, at best, a foggy crystal ball to give emergency services a better insight into a fire’s potential path.

Mr Francis said the program, which uses satellite technology, topographic maps, fuel types and weather detail from the Bureau of Meteorology including wind speed, temperature and humidity, is hoped to save lives.

Aurora can work out the time it will take a fire to spread if no resources are thrown at it to put it out.

It can also determine how long blazes will take to reach key assets like townships.

DFES deputy commissioner Steve Fewster said people still needed to play their part in getting ready for the bushfire season and urged those in bushfire-prone areas to be prepared with their own bushfire survival plan.

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