Frazer Wilson

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Presentation: Using Maps to Successfully Display Complex Bushfire Behaviour Attributes in Victoria

Frazer Wilson, Fire Behaviour Analyst, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning


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Things You Will Learn

  1. Science Communication

  2. Collaboration

  3. GIS in decision making

  4. Emergency Planning

  5. Bushfire Modelling with Phoenix Rapidfire

Target Audience

Land Managers, Emergency Services, people involved in Science Communication, Local Government

Presentation Overview

Bushfire information is most useful when it can be communicated to land managers and practitioners. The Department of Land, Environment, Water and Planning (DELWP) has developed Bushfire Risk Profile reporting for municipalities to pull together information derived from complex bushfire modelling for the first time. It’s success required the science to be easily communicated, easily understood and available for land managers decision making.

Using the bushfire characterisation tool Phoenix Rapidfire, along with a PostgreSQL server and ArcGIS software, we have been able to convert tens of terabytes of data, consisting of millions of bushfire simulations into simple maps. This includes complex fire attributes such as Ignition threat, Impact risk, fuel hazard mapping, ecological values as well as the fire metrics of convection, fire intensity and ember density.

Maps are an effective way to display complex fire behaviour attributes as most of the data is spatially explicit and they allow people to locate themselves in the landscape as well as the assets they value. We worked with municipalities and fire practitioners to develop all aspects of the maps, right down to the colour schemes. We also developed the scale and order in which information is delivered to ensure that the data shown is relevant and the language and context of the maps is appropriate. This provides targeted and effective science translation, enabling bushfire management works to be effective and prioritised. The maps were compiled into a ‘Risk Profile Report’ and provided to land managers and practitioners.

The reports are now forming the basis of some Municipal Fire Management Plans around Victoria and have proven to be a key tool in decision making across agencies in the East Central landscape area of Victoria.


As a young professional, I am still relatively new to the industry, graduating from Geomatics at RMIT in 2005. My undergraduate project ‘Modelling Bushfire Risk in the Dandenong Ranges’ won a multiple awards including the Undergraduate Student Victorian Spatial Excellence award. I have worked across Victoria from Traralgon to Bendigo to Mildura as a bushfire GIS specialist and have been deployed as a bushfire mapping officer during active fire seasons to Tasmania, NSW and every corner of Victoria.

I am currently employed as a Fire Behaviour Analyst for the East Central area of Victoria using spatial technologies to work to reduce the risk of bushfire to life, properties, ecology and other assets by determining the best locations for fuel management and other works. For the last four years I have also been a SSSI Victoria Young Professional Committee Member and on the SSSI Victorian Regional Committee for one year.