The web based NSW Rural Fire Service Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool provides advice to the community to assist with making an informed decision on whether it is safe to stay and defend their property. The new website is based on an extensive body of scientific knowledge and has been developed via a successful partnership between NSW Rural Fire Service and the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires at University of Wollongong.
A Bayesian Network has been implemented as the modelling framework to underpin the tool. The first step of the model calculates the Radiant Heat Flux to determine if the location and the structure are adequate to protect people to safely shelter in place. A Bayesian Network is used to assess responses for critical elements of preparedness developed from published expert knowledge. The model also assists NSW Rural Fire Service staff in assessing development applications and adequacy of existing controls for community protection plans.
The complexity of the model is not visible to people using the website. A member of the public will access the website and enter their property address triggering a series of spatial queries to determine the direction of greatest bush fire risk and the characteristics of the risk posed. A series of questions relating to the construction of their house, their personal capacity to defend, the available equipment and the conditions of the grounds of the property are then used to determine their capacity to defend their property. The automated calculations and interactive graphics provide visual assistance with answering critical but often poorly understood questions.