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Modelling of the Radiant Heat Flux and Rate of Spread of Wildfire within the Urban Environment

Author(s): Greg Penney, Steven Richardson
Year Published: 2019

One approach to increase community resilience to wildfire impacts is the enhancement of residential construction standards in an effort to provide protective shelters for families within their own homes. Current wildfire models reviewed in this study assume fire growth is unrestricted by vegetation fuel bed geometry; the head fire has attained a quasi-steady rate of spread; and the shielding effects of urban development are ignored. As a result, radiant heat flux may be significantly overestimated for small vegetation fires in road reserves, urban parklands, and similar scenarios. This paper proposes two new models to address this issue, and utilises two case studies for comparison against existing approaches. The findings are significant as this is the first study to analyse these factors from a fire engineering perspective, and to demonstrate that the use of landscape scale or siege wildfire models may not be appropriate within the urban context. The development of enhanced wildfire models will have a significant impact on town planning and construction practices in areas prone to wildfires, as well as firefighting suppression efforts when these events occur.

Citation: Penney, G.; Richardson, S. Modelling of the Radiant Heat Flux and Rate of Spread of Wildfire within the Urban Environment. Fire 2019, 2, 4. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2010004
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Simulation Modeling, Wildland Urban Interface
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 18806
Record updated: Jan 30, 2019