Suppression resource decisions are the dominant influence on containment of Australian forest and grass fires
Fire agencies aim to contain wildfires before they impact on life, property and infrastructure and to reduce the risk of damage to the environment. Despite the large cost of suppression, there are few data on the success of suppression efforts under varying weather, fuel and resource scenarios. We examined over 2200 forest and 4600 grass fires in New South Wales, Australia to determine the dominant influences on the containment of wildfires. A random forest modelling approach was used to analyse the effect of a range of human and environmental factors. The number of suppression resources per area of fire were the dominant influence on the containment of both forest and grass fires. As fire weather conditions worsened the probability of containment decreased across all fires and as fuel loads and slope increased the probability of containment decreased for forest fires. Environmental controls limit the effectiveness of wildfire management. However, results suggest investment in suppression resources and strategic fuel management will increase the probability of containment.