Fire Shield: Respond

Our goal by 2025: We have the resources, capabilities and coordination to be able to respond to fire within an hour of detection.

NSW Firefighters On High Alert Ahead Of New Year's Eve Fireworks DisplayNSW Firefighters On High Alert Ahead Of New Year's Eve Fireworks Display

A New South Wales police officer prepares to flee his roadblock on the Princes Highway near the town of Sussex Inlet – December 31, 2019. Photo Credit: Sam Mooy via Getty Images.

Enhancing speed and effectiveness

Fast responses typically reduce the damage caused by fire. Data from the US suggests that 90 per cent of fires that were responded to in up to one hour lasted an average of 14 hours, whereas 90 per cent of fires that were responded to after 72 hours lasted up to 47 days.

If many bushfires of great intensity occur at the same time, there will be a strain on firefighting resources and capacity. Tracking resources across the multiple agencies that fight fires will become more critical to avoid longer response times; a challenge that emergency services are developing tools to address.

Emerging technologies

Examples of emerging response technologies include:

  • Enhanced water-bombing, with increased water-carrying capacity and speed.
  • Novel fire retardants. These include options such as water-enhancing gels that are non-toxic and/or long-lasting that slow water evaporation and enable water to stick to vegetation.
  • Aerial drones: Drones are being tested for a number of uses such as aerial ignition for prescribed burns, scouting and inspection, impact assessment, logistics, search and rescue and clearing supply routes. Drone technology can also be used beyond direct firefighting, such as for inspection of remote telecommunication and power assets to direct maintenance and preparation efforts. Integrating drones into firefighting will require changes to regulations that currently restrict their use.

Our opportunity

As larger, longer and more simultaneous fires demand more from our firefighters and firefighting resources, close collaboration between states will be vital. There is a range of promising technologies to trial, adopt, scale and integrate into Australia. Given the range of technologies and protocols that currently exist and compatibility and procedural challenges, new solutions will need to be carefully integrated into existing systems.

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