Amicus: A national fire behaviour knowledge base

We have developed a new computer application that enables the easy calculation of expected fire danger and fire behaviour via a simple easy‑to-use interface. It is a powerful tool for fire behaviour analysis and prediction.

The Challenge

Easy access to fire knowledge

It is projected that Australia will face a significant increase in frequency and severity of bushfires causing long lasting socio-economic and  ecological impacts.

Burning bushland in Western Australia.

Accurate prediction of bushfire behaviour  is essential for the effective planning and  management of fire in the landscape.  This knowledge enables the timely determination of the potential threat and impacts of a fire and provides the basis for sound fire-management decision‑making.

Fire behaviour prediction combines quantitative and qualitative information sources that are based on scientific principles and personal experience describing the combustion and behaviour of fire in a range of weather, fuel and topographic conditions. But often this information is not available or difficult to access when it is needed.

Our Response

A national fire behaviour knowledge base

Amicus, a national fire behaviour knowledge base, is a new software tool that provides a unique framework in which each of these information sources can be accessed and used by trained fire behaviour analysts to predict the behaviour of bushfires. One centralised knowledge base ensures consistent and comprehensive information is available.

Fire behaviour analysts enter landscape characteristics, forecast or actual weather data and information on vegetation and fuel type condition and Amicus provides quick, easy point‑based estimates of potential fire rate of spread and behaviour according to the most appropriate fire behaviour model from the library of models incorporated into it.

Amicus has been designed to run on a range of desktop operating systems with future versions to allow use in the field via tablets and smartphones.

The Results

A powerful, easy to use tool for fire analysis and prediction

Amicus brings together all our published knowledge for predicting the behaviour and spread of bushfires in a range of vegetation and fuel types into a simple easy‑to-use interface, providing a powerful tool for bushfire emergency management and decision making.

The current version of Amicus contains only quantitative information of fire behaviour derived from our current set of recommended fire behaviour models for those vegetation types for which a quality rate of fire spread model exists.

Future expansion of the tool will integrate the fire weather, fuel dynamics, and suppression capability knowledge and science to help fire managers better predict bushfire behaviour and better plan prescribed burns. It will also allow new qualitative knowledge, obtained from a variety of sources to be added to improve knowledge applicability; including personal observation, photographs, video and more objective sources.

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