Rural fires occur from the edge of highly developed
and urbanised land through to remote and
inaccessible wilderness. Ignition sources are numerous
and varied, and nearly always from people.
Fire impacts range from catastrophic to
beneficial. Fire is an integral and important component
of most natural ecosystems, and efforts to
eliminate it may be neither practicable nor desirable.
Equally, unplanned fire is neither desirable
nor welcome in areas such as agricultural lands.
In order to have any success in ‘managing’ fire
there must be a good understanding and knowledge
of fire in the landscape being managed. To
establish what is required for fire management it is
necessary to consider and frame the factors systematically.
I present the key identified areas of
fire management — analysis, prevention, preparedness,
response and recovery — to highlight
some questions and concepts that should be applied.
Aspects of fires that are important for the
focus for fire management have been set out in
the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan of the
Australian Capital Territory and in the Canadian
Wildfire Strategy. Fires ignite THEN spread
through fuels THEN impact on assets (human built
or environmental). We can prevent/reduce ignitions;
prevent/reduce the chance for fires to
spread; prevent/reduce the negative impacts on
assets. The mix of these options and the balance
between them will vary with circumstance. Systematically
framing fire management factors in
combination with what fires do when they start,
burn and impact more clearly identifies where the
‘fire problem’ might be found.