Australian Bushfire Rating System Fact Sheet
In September 2022, all jurisdictions across Australia will implement a new fire danger forecastingsystem, the Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS). This will deliver a nationally consistentsystem for fire danger ratings based on the latest scientific research. This will result in more accuratepredictions for fire danger as well as clearer, simplified messaging for all communities.In Victoria, the implementation for the AFDRS is being led by Emergency Management Victoria(EMV). The department has been working closely with EMV to prepare for this change and supportour education communities to implement bushfire preparedness activities throughout the transitionto the new system.
Victoria currently utilises a six-tier system for fire danger ratings, spanning from Low-Moderate toCode Red. The AFDRS will use four tiers of fire danger, from Moderate to Catastrophic. Thedepartment has worked with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation(CSIRO) to update our bushfire risk methodology in line with the changes. There are minimal changesto the methodology and department policy as a result of the new fire danger rating system.The below outlines the changes under the new AFDRS:
The new Extreme fire danger rating under the AFDRS will cover a broader scope of fire danger ratingscombining the current Severe and Extreme fire danger ratings.In addition, Code Red will now be known as Catastrophic fire danger.As a result, the triggers for pre-emptive relocation and closure on elevated fire danger days will beadjusted slightly to reflect this new system.
Category 1 schools from 1 September 2022 will relocate or close in accordance with theirpre-approved plan on a day forecast Extreme FDR for their LGA (currently Severe FDR, whichwill now be captured under the broader Extreme FDR under the AFDRS).
Category 2 schools from 1 September 2022 will now relocate or close in accordance withtheir pre-approved plan on a day forecast Extreme FDR for their LGA (continues to becaptured under the broader Extreme FDR under the AFDRS).
As per current arrangements, all schools on the BARR (Category 1-3) and Category 4 list,regardless of risk category, must close on a forecast Catastrophic FDR day under the AFDRS(currently Code Red FDR) in their weather district, and their buses will be cancelled. All otherbuses which travel through the Catastrophic FDR area will also be cancelled.
DET will continue to communicate with schools over the coming months about the AFDRS and howthis change will be applied in departmental policies and procedures, and how to support schoolcommunities through the transition.
The Country Fire Authority offers an E Learning Module designed to support people who work in andtravel through bushfire risk areas as part of their job. AFDRS information will form part of thismodule and will be available to complete in August 2022.
This Module is available via the CFA website: https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/atrisk
The CFA is updating publications that schools regularly use when discussing summer fire safety, thesewill be available when AFDRS officially launches in September.If you have any questions, please contact your Regional Emergency Management staff or firstname.lastname@example.org. This information will also be covered in your annualcommunication about your fire risk as well as in upcoming emergency management training sessions.
School procedures for the bushfire season
Fire danger ratings and warnings are used in Victoria to provide clear direction on the safest options for preserving life.
Schools and children’s services listed on the DET Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR) and those at risk of grassfire (Category 4) will be closed when a Catastrophic fire danger rating day is determined in their Bureau of Meteorology district. Our school has been identified as being one of those at high bushfire or grassfire risk.
Where possible, we will provide parents with up to four days notice of a potential Catastrophic day closure by email, text message, Sentral Parent Portal & school website. A Catastrophic day will be determined by the Emergency Management Commissioner no later than 1.00 pm the day before the potential closure. Once we are advised of the confirmation of the Catastrophic day we will provide you with advice before the end of the school day.
Once confirmed, the decision to close will not change, regardless of improvements in the weather forecast. This is to avoid confusion and help your family plan alternative care arrangements for your child. It is also important to note that:
On these Catastropic days families are encouraged to enact their Bushfire Survival Plan – on such days children should never be left at home alone or in the care of older children.
For those of us living in a bushfire prone area, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) advises that when Catastrophic days are forecast, the safest option is to leave the night before or early on the morning of the catastrophic day.
As part of preparing our school for potential hazards such as fire, we have updated and completed our Emergency Management Plan, [reprioritised any maintenance works that may assist in preparing for the threat of fire and cleared our facility’s grounds and gutters]
What can parents do?
Multiple sources that offer information on emergencies are listed below: