Phil Cheney ‘Bushfire Behaviour and Management in Australia’

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Thursday, 12 June 2014 - 12:30pm

Intense fires and severe damage will occur anywhere heavy fuel exists. Prescribed burning is the most effective and ecologically sound method of reducing fuels over broad areas but requires a good knowledge of fire behaviour and public acceptance. Phil will discuss these issues and how research in Australia has addressed them.

Phillip (Phil) Cheney is a retired CSIRO research scientist and an international expert on bushfire behaviour and management. He graduated in forestry at the University of Melbourne and has a Diploma in Forestry from the Australian Forestry School in Canberra.

Phil started research into bushfires in 1964 and was leader of the CSIRO Bushfire Research group from 1975 to 2001. His research aimed to develop systems to predict fire behaviour from fuel and weather variables which could be used to develop warning systems for wildfires and guidelines to undertaking prescribed burning. He also researched fire ecology, aerial and ground suppression, firefighter health and safety, home protection and the effect of fire on water catchments.  He investigated many major fire disasters, including the 1967 Hobart Disaster, the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires and the 2003 Canberra fires, and has advised coroners and royal commissions on fire behaviour.

 He has written more than 100 papers and contributed to seven books. His several awards include the CSIRO Medal for outstanding research achievement in the application of fire science for safer fire-fighting and safer communities and the Public Service Medal.