Doctor of Philosophy
School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences
Large fires can cause the deaths of hundreds of people, burn thousands of homes, and cost billions of dollars in damages. Suppression is the primary means of large-fire management. Most suppression costs, billions of dollars, come from large-fire suppression. Yet, formal knowledge of large-fire suppression is limited. Fire managers make decisions that impact the lives of thousands of people. As the effectiveness of large-fire suppression is mainly unquantified, there is little beyond their tacit knowledge to guide decisions. Before we address effectiveness, we must address a fundamental question: ‘How are suppression resources used on large fires?’ This thesis uses qualitative and quantitative methods to answer that question.
This thesis examines the suppression of 74 large fires that occurred between 2010 and 2015 in Victoria, Australia. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning made this research possible by providing operational data. The first step to resolving suppression resource use was to develop a framework of large-fire suppression (Chapter 3). A qualitative document analysis was performed on a subset of ten large fires. Three approaches were involved: 1) daily fire reconstructions were completed, covering 156 days, 2) a five-stage classification of suppression was developed by analysing the reconstructions and comments in 674 operational documents, and 3) content analysis was performed on the comments to classify discrete suppression tasks. Large-fire suppression was framed as a progression through five discrete stages with 20 identified tasks. A striking result was that 57% of resource use was on tasks that fall outside of current suppression modelling and productivity research.
Simpson, Heather Lorraine, Empirical Analysis of Firefighting – Large-Fire Suppression in Victoria, Australia, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences, University of Wollongong, 2022. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses1/1448
FoR codes (2008)
9610 NATURAL HAZARDS, 8201 FORESTRY, 9603 CLIMATE AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.