Leading bushfire researchers converge on NSW Blue Mountains

The nation's leading bushfire researchers will compare notes at the Australian Bushfire Building Conference this week.

CSIRO researcher Justin Leonard from Melbourne will virtually present research into building performance during the 2019/20 bushfires.

He has dedicated his 26-year research career to understanding how bushfire risk to life and infrastructure can be managed. This research combines knowledge from bushfire exposure experiments with post-bushfire survey investigations and computer modelling of bushfire interactions with buildings.

Mr Leonard said their lastest research was based on "the learnings from the NSW bushfire losses."

"We're looking at whether houses built to regulation do better than before regulations were in place and by how much better," he said.

"Consistently across all the fires there is a consistent signal that regulations improve the prospects [of houses surviving]."

Their research found older houses did not fare as well. This was partly due to the homes deteriorating over time and falling into a state of disrepair, and whether vegetation had been cleared back from around the home.

There were many ways that a house could burn down, and it was best to address a home's "weakest links", Mr Leonard said.

The conference is being held in a reduced capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, at the Fairmont Resort in Leura on September 17 and 18.

Hosted by the Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise, the conference will focus on lessons learned from the summer bushfires.

The program includes presentations from NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers, and Shane Fitzsimmons, past commissioner and now inaugural Commissioner for Resilience NSW.

Conference delegates will also hear from researchers on bushfire design for BAL homes, bunker design, simulated bushfire testing, and the use of new technology for bushfire preparation.

BMEE chairman Don Luscombe said this was an opportunity for industry professionals to get up to speed with the latest research, regulations, innovations and technological advances.

"Following a devastating summer bushfire season, a Royal Commission, and future predictions of increased fire weather, there will be plenty to discuss and explore in the bushfire building space," Mr Luscombe said.

The conference on Thursday morning will be live streamed through ABC Radio Sydney's Facebook page. The entire event will be available virtually through an OnAIR Portal. You'll need to register here.

This story Bushfire researchers compare lessons from Black Summer first appeared on Blue Mountains Gazette.