Fire Weather Warnings

Introduction

Wind, temperature, humidity and rainfall are weather elements that 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. Fire agencies in each jurisdiction determine Fire Danger Ratings and in some cases declare (Total) Fire Bans.

National Fire Danger Rating System

In 2010, State and Territory governments adopted a National Fire Danger Rating System. The Bureau provides fire agencies with forecasts based on the McArthur Mk V Forest and modified CSIRO Mk IV grassland fire danger meters to assist them in calculating the Fire Danger Ratings for each State and Territory. However, the agencies consider other factors in their determination of the Fire Danger Ratings which are disseminated to the public.

The new Fire Danger Ratings.

The highest category of Fire Danger Rating is Catastrophic except in Victoria where it is called Code Red. Tasmania depicts the Catastrophic FDR with the colour Black. Consult the fire agency website in your jurisdiction for further details about Fire Danger Ratings.

Fire Weather Warnings

The Bureau of Meteorology issue Fire Weather Warnings when weather conditions are conducive to the spread of dangerous bushfires. Warnings are generally issued within 24 hours of the potential onset of hazardous conditions. Warnings are also broadcast on radio and television.

Fire agencies determine Fire Danger Ratings. In most States and Territories, fire agencies declare fire bans based on a range of criteria including forecast weather provided by the Bureau.

The information contained in Fire Weather Warnings includes:

  • 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 Rating
  • The area where weather conditions are conducive to the spread of dangerous fires
  • The time period for which it will be in effect

Fire Weather Warnings are distributed through the media, fire agencies and other key emergency service organisations. Warnings are normally issued in the afternoon for the following day so to be available for evening television and radio news broadcasts. Warnings are renewed at regular intervals and generally at the same time major forecasts are issued. However, warnings may be issued or amended and reissued at any time if a need is identified.

In each State the issue of a Fire Weather Warning has different impacts on restrictions for lighting fires. Check with the fire authority and / or local council in your area for details.
Sample Fire Weather Warning

Total Fire Bans

The Bureau of Meteorology does not have the power to declare a Total Fire Ban. This responsibility resides with designated fire agencies in each State and Territory. Check with your fire agency if there are any fire bans or other restrictions currently in force in your area.

The areas covered by fire bans do not align with Bureau forecast districts in New South Wales, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Check with the local fire authority and / or council about fire ban boundaries in your area and the obligations associated with adhering to Total Fire Ban restrictions.

Further Information

Contact your local fire authority for further information on fire safety.

Up-to-date weather information is available on radio and from Bureau of Meteorology offices.

Notice Board

References