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BRANNSIKKERHET-Forsknings- og innovasjonssentre for brannsikkerhet

Reducing fire disaster risk through dynamic risk assessment and management (DYNAMIC)

Alternative title: Redusere risiko for brannkatastrofer gjennom dynamisk risikomodellering og risikostyring (DYNAMIC)

Awarded: NOK 8.5 mill.

a) The doctor and the professor The project DYNAMIC (Reducing fire disaster risk through dynamic risk assessment and management) is in its final year, and many (also personal) goals have been achieved. Anna Marie Gjedrem defended her thesis "Innovative and Sustainable Solutions for WUI Fire Risk Management in Coastal Norway". She is now post-doc in Australia, researching how communities can live with the risk of fire, which climate change and the lack of landscape management for decades have created. Maria Monika Metallinou was promoted to Professor May 2023 and appointed as a member of the EU group to prepare the study: Changing Wildfires – global patterns and European responses, for the European Academies Science Advisory Council. b) Prevention is vital, but most research is on consequence analysis A literature study of heathland burning in Europe, (heathlands were - and partly are- present in all European countries with Atlantic coast) shows that out of ca. 1000 articles, only 22 have a social science angle, and little research is done on prevention. In DYNAMIC, we researched how to form successful groups for heathland burning and how electronically fenced goats reduce biomass in the Wildland Urban Interface, i.e., the area where nature and structures intermix. c) Do we learn from accidents? We investigated 6 fires in the WUI, which threatened (or partially destroyed) settlements in coastal Norway. The fires started outdoors, in previously managed heathland. Through a series of interviews with the fire service involved, we investigated fire risk perception, response as well as measures taken afterwards. All 6 fire services recognized the increased danger, because of prolonged drought and wind, but had not imposed a fire ban, as they needed more decision-making support than a weather forecast. The responses were studied based on a model including decisive factors. When adverse factors combine, we can suffer losses, even if the fire service acts correctly. We then categorised the taken measures into reducing probability, reducing vulnerability, or improving response. The first two categories are called primary mitigation, while improving preparedness is called secondary mitigation, according to WHO. All types of measures were identified. The need to reduce biomass was understood by all, apart from (paradoxically) the hardest hit municipality. d) Heathland burning to reduce biomass Compensation for managing heathland with prescribed burning (PB) is now in place in some counties. Practitioners are also more skilled and assess situations better. On Haugalandet, there was also burned around the houses in Skåredalen neighbourhood, Easter 2023, to remove vegetation and create clearance. PB is a potent fire hazard in the short term - in the event of misjudgements. We therefore work to further develop criteria for where and when it is safe to burn. Gjedrem, A.M.; Metallinou, M.M. 2023, Safety Science, 159, 106032, e) Index for warning of fire risk in wooden houses, tested against historical data Until recently, the fire risk for wooden houses was estimated through static assessments or period-based assessments for certain times of the year, for example Christmas holiday. For homes with indoor wooden panels, especially in the ceiling, the risk of fire increases in cold weather as heated buildings become dry indoors. In this study, the dryness of the wood was measured, and observations support the moisture content as a fire hazard indicator for wooden houses. Based on ten years of weather data for three locations in Norway, Haugesund, Lærdal and Røros, historical moisture content was modelled and analyzed using a three-dimensional risk matrix to assess the usability of the results from the fire risk modelling. The number of high-risk periods in the studied decade was low, and the risk may be handled by fire services through proactive measures if notified in advance. Validation backwards in time shows that the method can notify 3 days ahead. A fire danger index was introduced for cold climate wooden houses to communicate risk using a scale like the National Wildfire Index. The number of days with dry conditions varies a lot among the selected cities. High fire risk depends more on the number of days with strong winds than days with drought. Thus, Haugesund is statistically more exposed than the drier inland cities. This agrees with the most serious urban fires in Norway since 1900, except for the 2014 Lærdal fire. We tested the model for The Marshall Fire, USA, Dec. 2021, where 1,094 buildings burned, and it works also outside Norway. Introducing the fire danger index corresponds with recent changes in Norwegian regulations, which require the fire service to have systems detecting risk peaks. Strand, R.D.; Log, T. A Cold Climate Wooden Home and Conflagration Danger Index: Justification and Practicability for Norwegian Conditions. Fire 2023, 6, 377.

DYNAMIC is an interdisciplinary project focusing on fire disaster prevention, e.g. the 2014 Lærdalsøyri and Flatanger fires. Changes in climate, land-use, buildings, infrastructure and demography are increasing the fire risk in previously low-risk areas in Norway. DYNAMIC will map and model the abiotic, biotic, and human drivers of these changes in fire risk, develop risk forecasting strategies, and contribute to identify effective short and long term risk reducing measures. Two interconnected innovative aspects of DYNAMIC are (i) our radical cross-disciplinary expertise, as we are the first project, to our knowledge, integrating expertise form fire science, contingency management, computer science, meteorology, risk management, health, cultural landscape management, farming, and ecosystem science, and (ii) our cross-sectorial approach where the scientists collaborate closely throughout the project period with fire brigades, farming communities, and civic habitat management interest groups. DYNAMIC shall identify and monitor significant risk contributing factors, develop forecasting systems for high risk conditions and warn the emergency systems and the public when appropriate regarding single structure fire risk, conflagration risk and Calluna (No: røsslyng) dominated WUI fire risk. DYNAMIC shall support recent civic efforts in coastal Norway to reduce accumulated degenerated fire prone Calluna, intruded by very flammable junipers, and support and optimize innovative prescribed burning and fire control methods. Camp fires as ignition source will be addressed. Proactive emergency responses based on forecasted risk, and computer based training programs, will be developed, assessed and optimized. To reduce the likelihood of massive loss of lives, e.g. Greece and California 2018, warning systems aimed at supporting individuals at risk will be developed and tested. DYNAMIC will participate in the new IAFSS "Large Outdoor Fires & the Built Environment" Work Group.

Publications from Cristin

Funding scheme:

BRANNSIKKERHET-Forsknings- og innovasjonssentre for brannsikkerhet