Quantifying the prevalence and practice of suppression firing with operational data from large fires in victoria, australia
Fire management agencies around the world use suppression firing for fire control. Yet, we know little about the extent of its use (e.g., prevalence and spatial coverage) and its impact on containment. We examine the prevalence and practice of suppression firing in Victoria, Australia. We used operational data from five years (2010–2015) to identify and map the incidence of suppression firing on 74 large fires (500+ ha). Suppression firing occurred on half (34) of these fires, 26 of which had data to map firing locations. The area burnt by suppression firing ranged from <1 ha to ~20,000 ha on separate fires. Archetypal suppression firing occurred during intervals of low fire spread and resulted in modest fire behaviour. Ground crews generally conducted the perimeter suppression firing. Aerial ignition was more common on large internal firing operations. For the 26 fires where we mapped the firing locations, firing occurred along 77% of the perimeter-aligned road. Suppression firing was a prominent containment tool used along one-fifth of the total external perimeter of these 74 large fires. Quantification of this practice is a first step towards establishing ignition thresholds, production rates, and integration with containment probability models.
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Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, State Government of Victoria