The Bureau of Meteorology issues fire weather warnings when forecast weather conditions are likely to be dangerous and we work closely with emergency services around the country to keep the community informed.
The Bureau of Meteorology issues fire weather warnings when forecast weather conditions are likely to be dangerous. Warnings are normally issued in the afternoon for the following day so as to be available for evening television and radio news broadcasts. Warnings are renewed at regular intervals and may be issued or amended and reissued at any time if a need is identified.
On a day when dangerous bushfire activity is more likely stay in touch with your local fire agency and emergency services via their website and social media and tune into emergency broadcasters. Keep up-to-date with the fire weather warnings by checking the Bureau website and weather app and you can also follow us on Twitter.
Fire Weather Warnings are issued for the areas delineated by Fire Weather Forecast Areas boundaries.
Figure 1: Sample fire weather warning
We work closely with emergency services around the country to keep the community informed. The Fire Danger Rating is a measure of the difficulty in controlling or suppressing fires. The Bureau and emergency services use six Fire Danger Ratings to communicate the level of bushfire risk. The higher the rating the more dangerous the conditions are likely to be. At higher ratings, any fire that starts will likely to be fast-moving and difficult to control. No matter what the forecast Fire Danger Rating, if you live in or are traveling to an area that could be affected by bushfire you need to have a bushfire plan in place so you know what to do if a bushfire starts.
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 state or territory for further details about Fire Danger Ratings.
Figure 2: Fire danger ratings in Australia
Figure 3: Example of a fire danger rating forecast in NT
The Fire Danger Index is not the same as the Fire Danger Rating - it is a major factor (but not the only factor) used to determine the Fire Danger Rating. There are two types of Fire Danger Index - one is for forest fires and one for grass fires, however in Tasmania the Moorland Fire Danger Index is used instead of the grass fire index. The Moorland Fire Danger Index is designed to be used for button grass moorlands, a dominant vegetation type in the Southwest Tasmanian World Heritage Area, and common in western Tasmania.
Unlike the Fire Danger Rating which has six levels ranging from 'Low to Moderate' to 'Code Red', both the Grass Fire Danger Index and the Forest Fire Danger Index are expressed as number ranging from 0 to 200. When a Fire Danger Index reaches 50 the conditions are considered as severe; when conditions reach 75 the conditions are considered as extreme. The Forest Fire Danger Index and the Grass Fire Danger Index should be considered as indicative numbers only. That is, if there were a fire it is very likely that the fire would be of similar severity if the Forest Fire Danger Index was 40 or 60 for example.
To see the the average annual, average monthly and average seasonal Forest Fire Danger Index over Australia, have a look at the average Forest Fire Danger Index maps.
Figure 4: Sample grassland fire danger index
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 Bureau of Meteorology publishes a Fire Weather Service Level Specification that describes the available fire weather services we provide and when each product is issued. The SLS is available here.