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Chief Executive Officer


Port Hills fire from Christchurch 15 Feb 2017. Photo by Ross Younger/Mediary/Flickr
Port Hills fire from Christchurch 15 Feb 2017. Photo by Ross Younger/Mediary/Flickr

25 years of rural fire research in New Zealand

Last week the New Zealand rural fire community celebrated 25 years of rural fire research with the 5th NZ Rural Fire Research Workshop in Christchurch, hosted by Scion, in conjunction with the Rural Fire Research Advisory Committee. The two-day event considered extreme fire behaviour and how effective fire spread models had been used, examined recent applications of unmanned aircraft in fire mapping, and considered international experiences. The workshops went on to consider smoke simulation with presentations from the US and from CSIRO in Australia. The final day focused on firefighter safety and community resilience and risk communication topics.

The discussions focused around several core topics, and saw international speakers from Canada, the US and Australia, as well as several local speakers. The meeting was a great opportunity to look back at what had been achieved and look forward to the work to be conducted under Scion’s new grants from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise as well as the through the national research challenge.

During the workshop Scion researcher and Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Associate Student Grant Pearce was recognised for his 25 years in serving the NZ community through his research. His award was presented at the event’s dinner by Kevin O’Connor, of the National Rural Fire Authority. Congratulations Grant on such a well deserved award from all at the CRC.

The two days closed with a broad ranging discussion about how to best use the material produced by research. This was a follow-on from other discussions which were raised in the US during the Australian and NZ international study tour I spoke at in Utah in October last year, but is echoed around the world - 'what is research use?' and 'what are examples of where it is done well?'. Great topics, with answers still outstanding. What is clear though is that the answer does not lie with just the researcher or the end-user, but is a combination of both working closely together.


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