Bureau of Meteorology: Fire Weather Warnings


Wind, temperature, humidity and rainfall all combine to affect the behaviour of bushfires. In Australia there is a system of assessing these in conjunction with the state of the available fuels to determine a measure of "fire danger", or the difficulty of putting out any fires which may occur. The Bureau of Meteorology issues Fire Weather Warnings to alert the public when conditions are likely to be dangerous. The Bureau also includes advices when State agencies issue Fire Bans.

Fire Weather Warnings

The Bureau's fire weather services have been developed in close consultation with the fire authorities in each State and Territory to best cater for local requirements. We issue Fire Weather Warnings when the rating on the fire danger scale is expected to be Severe, Extreme or Catastrophic over an area. This is usually assessed over our weather forecast districts but in New South Wales the Rural Fire Service has set up a system of NSW Fire Areas so we align our fire weather warnings with these areas in that State.

The information contained in a fire weather warning will be:

  • The office which issued the warning
  • The local time, day and date that it was issued
  • A description of the relevant meteorological conditions and fire danger
  • The area affected
  • The time period for which it will be in effect
We also include a total fire ban message if a ban is in force and action statements appropriate for the Fire Danger Ratings being forecast. These action statements are provided by the relevant fire authorities.

Fire Weather Warnings are available from the Bureau's website and they are also distributed through the media and to fire agencies and other key emergency services organisations. They are normally issued in the afternoon for the following day so that they are available in time for the evening television and radio news services. However, they may be issued at any time that the need is recognised. They are renewed at regular intervals, generally at major forecast issue times, and amended immediately if the need is recognised. If there is a Fire Weather Warning current we will mention this in State/Territory and District weather forecasts for that area.

Due to software constraints and accessibility requirements, the Bureau of Meteorology uses slightly different colours to those used in printed material produced by fire agencies for Fire Danger Ratings. Refer to the table below.

Note: Catastrophic fire danger will be indicated by the colour black in Tasmania.

Sample Fire Weather Warning

Total Fire Bans

The Bureau of Meteorology doesn't have the power to declare a Total Fire Ban. This responsibility resides with designated fire agencies in each State and Territory, however we either issue Fire Ban Advices or mention Fire Bans in the text of the Fire Weather Warning to assist in publicising them. We also include the existence of fire bans, when they are current, in our weather forecasts and warning summaries.

Sample Fire Ban Advice

Educational Material

Further information about bushfires and bushfire weather is available here.

Return to Main Warnings Information Page

Last updated 30 September 2009