The where when and what of bushfire risk to property — Dr. Owen Price

Lecture Theatre 1 -- Rm 106
Life Sciences Building
College Road, Sandy Bay Campus
University of Tasmania
29 Oct 2018

The inaugural edition of the Fire Centre Seminar Series will feature Dr Owen Price, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfire, University of Wollongong. He will be talking about his research relating to bushfire property risk.

Here’s a recording of the seminar for those of you who missed it:


Managing bushfire risk remains a challenge in Australia and around the world because of the complexity of the factors driving risk and the inherent unpredictability of ignitions. In this talk, I summarise the current state of knowledge around the three major themes: the where of fire (mapping areas of high risk), the when (forecasting times of high risk) and what (effective strategies for risk mitigation).

Up to now risk mapping has been largely heuristic, but recent advances in statistical analysis of past fires and fire spread simulation provides tools for estimating the likelihood of fire occurring at any point in the landscape. Forecasting still relies on the coarse approach of Fire Danger Rating based on forecast weather over large regions, but far more detail is now available with products such as weekly fuel moisture maps derived from satellites. Research into a range of mitigation strategies now highlights the relatively small benefit provided by broad-scale prescribed burning and the value of property centred treatments (such as clearing fuels around the house, and applying prescribed burning near the urban interface).


Owen Price is Senior Risk Modeller in the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires at the University of Wollongong. In a research career spanning 30 years, he has ranged from studying sheep ecology, wildlife conservation and, for the past 11 years, bushfire risk. His risk research focusses on empirical evidence about the effect of mitigation measures on various bushfire risk factors. These risk factors include fire spread, area, severity and impact on houses, and the mitigation measures include prescribed burning, fuel breaks, ignition management, household preparedness and suppression. He has published 85 peer reviewed articles and 40 reports.