.. What is a wildfire? A wildfire is an unplanned, unwanted wildland fire including unauthorized human-caused fires1. Vegetation fires are caused by slash and burn land clearing, clearing of plantations following logging operations, and by natural events such as lightning or extreme drought. During dry seasons fires usually reach a peak and can present a transboundary problem when prevailing winds disperse the smoke across borders to other countries2. .. Characteristics/Measurements: There are three different classes of wildland fires. A surface fire is the most common type and burns along the floor of a forest, moving slowly and killing or damaging trees. A ground fire is usually started by lightning and burns on or below the forest floor. Crown fires spread rapidly by wind and move quickly by jumping along the tops of trees. Wildland fires are usually signaled by dense smoke that fills the area for miles around3. .. Impacts/Causes of injury and damage: Destruction of vegetated and eventually inhabited areas and construction sites, potentially leading to large areas with ecological and economical losses. A major wildland fire can leave a large amount of scorched and barren land. These areas may not to return to prefire conditions for decades. If the wildland destroyed the ground cover, then erosion becomes one of several potential problems4. Smoke and other emissions contain pollutants that can cause significant health problems. The short-term effects contain destruction of timber, forage, wildlife habitats, scenic vistas, and watersheds. Furthermore the long-term effects contain reduced access to recreational areas; destruction of community infrastructure and cultural and economic resources5. .. Emergency action: Control Techniques: Bushfires are usually fought by numerous trained volunteers and a core of professional firefighters with vehicle -mounted equipment (in accessible terrain). Observation is often provided by light aircraft and helicopters. Water-bombing is also provided by helicopters with buckets which lift water from dams, lakes or swimming pools. They are effective in stopping spot fires ignited by windborne firebrands, sometimes kilometres ahead of the main fire-front. This greatly assists and contributes to the safety of firefighting crews. In large bushfires, bulldozers and graders are used to create emergency firebreaks ahead of firefronts. Back-burning from firebreaks is frequently effective in slowing or stopping the spread of fire.6. .. Mitigation: Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in preventive mitigation steps now such as installing a spark arrestor on your chimney, cleaning roof surfaces and gutters regularly and using only fireresistant materials on the exterior of your home, will help reduce the impact of wildland fires in the future. For more information on mitigation, contact your local emergency management office.7 .. Further Information: Emergency Management Australia (EMA) http://www.ema.gov.au/agd/EMA/rwpattach.nsf/VAP/(1FEDA2C440E4190E0993A00B7C030CB7)~Hazards+7th+ed.pdf/$file/Hazards+7th+ed.pdf
- 1. NWCG (National Wildfire Coordinating Group), 2006, Glossary of Wildfire Terminology, p.179. http://www.fire.uni-freiburg.de/literature/US-NFCG-Fire-Mgmt-Glossary-20...
- 2. GFMC (The Global Fire Monitoring Center), International Forest Fire News (IFFN) No. 31, 2004, p. 1. http://www.fire.uni-freiburg.de/iffn/iffn_31/20-IFFN-31-WHO-Health-2.pdf
- 3. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Fact Sheet Wildland Fires, 1993, p. 3. http://www.floridadisaster.org/bpr/EMTOOLS/wildfire/wlfrls.pdf
- 4. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Fact Sheet Wildland Fires, 1993, p. 4. http://www.floridadisaster.org/bpr/EMTOOLS/wildfire/wlfrls.pdf
- 5. USGS (United States Geological Survey), Wildfire Hazards—A National Threat Fact Sheet, 2006, p.1. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2006/3015/2006-3015.pdf
- 6. EMA (Emergency Management Australia), Hazards, Disasters and your community, 2006, p. 11. http://www.ema.gov.au/agd/EMA/rwpattach.nsf/VAP/(1FEDA2C440E4190E0993A00B7C030CB7)~Hazards+7th+ed.pdf/$file/Hazards+7th+ed.pdf
- 7. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Fact Sheet Wildland Fires, 1993, p. 2. http://www.floridadisaster.org/bpr/EMTOOLS/wildfire/wlfrls.pdf