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Property to be set alight in bushfire tests

%In a world first, burns will take place on a large private property near Wangaratta to find out more about grassfires, grassland curing and how it all fits in with the way fire behaviour and risk is measured.

December 3, 2013 4:05am

Research on grasslands in bushfires will see a property set alight.


In a world first, burns will take place on a large private property near Wangaratta to find out more about grassfires, grassland curing and how it all fits in with the way fire behaviour and risk is measured.

The research is a joint effort by CFA and CSIRO.

CFA research and innovation manager David Nichols said CFA did a lot of work around grassland curing, which looks at how and where grassland has dried out, fuel loads and how this will contribute to fire danger.

‘‘We’re wanting to find the relationship between grassland curing and fire behaviour and to do this, we need to perform a series of experimental burns on large areas of grassland,’’ Mr Nichols said.

‘‘We’re hoping to find out the link between the rate of fire spread, flame geometry and fuel loads according to different grassland curing thresholds,’’ he said.

‘‘This will not only assist us with future response to grassfires, but will help us to determine what the Fire Danger Rating is, when Fire Danger Periods should take place in a particular area, when to declare Total Fire Bans and how we allocate resources across the state.’’

CFA also wants to dispel a range of myths about grassfires.

Mr Nichols said this included the perception that if a fire starts in grassland which is only 60 per cent cured, then it won’t travel far.

‘‘Testing has always been focused on bushfires but we need to look more closely at grassfires and the dangers involved,’’ he said.

‘‘With the help from CSIRO, we’re now producing science behind what can actually happen during grassfires on all different types of grassland.’’

The burns are conducted by local CFA volunteers. They started last month and will continue in December at Wangaratta and Ballarat.

A range of resources, including unmanned air vehicles (drones) and infrared gear will be used.

If anyone is unsure if the smoke is related to these experimental burns or an actual fire, they can call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800240667.

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