Degree Name

Master of Science - Research


School of Health Sciences


Australia is one of the most bushfire prone regions in the world. Regular bushfires pose a threat to the Australian population and in particular those located on the Eastern seaboard, and in the 2007 Victorian bushfires 173 lives were documented to be lost (Royal Victorian Bushfire Commission, 2009). As a result of these loses, it was deemed that a building standard for bushfire shelters was necessary. This project sought to test the thermal standard for bushfire shelters, which was determined by the Australian Building Codes Board (2010) to be 39° Modified Discomfort Index. A series of three experiments were undertaken to determine if this standard would support life for the expected occupancy period. The first experiment was a preliminary study to determine if the standard of 39° Modified Discomfort Index would provide an environment in which core temperature could be maintained. The second experiment determined the influence of an air-tight simulator on the thermal standard, as an air-tight shelter would cause changes in gas concentrations and also the micro-climate of the shelter. This experiment helped to identify a possible worstcase thermal profile for the bushfire shelter throughout a 60-min exposure. With this and keeping in mind that it has been found that dehydration is associated with a faster rise in core temperature (Montain and Coyle, 1992) and occupants may find themselves seeking shelter in a somewhat dehydrated state. Therefore, the third investigation focussed on the influence of dehydration on the thermal profile identified in experiment two. It can be concluded that from this study that the thermal standard for bushfire shelters would provide a safe environment for healthy individuals.