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Fire Danger Ratings are changing

Monday, 20th June 2022

Fire Danger Ratings are changing

Fire danger ratings describe the potential level of danger should a bush fire start. They are important because they provide people with information so that they can take action to protect themselves and others from the potentially dangerous impacts of bush fires.

Most of us may recognise the current fire danger semi-circle signage along our roadsides but few may realise that the current system is based on science that is more than 60 years old. The Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS) Program is redesigning the forecasting of fire danger in Australia. The new nationally-consistent system uses the latest scientific understanding about weather, fuel and how fire behaves in different types of vegetation to improve the reliability of fire danger forecasts. This strengthens the ability of those working in emergency services to be better prepared, make improved decisions and provide better advice to the community.

The new fire danger rating system will have four levels with action-oriented messages to encourage people to take action to protect themselves and others in the face of bush fire risks. The new levels are:

MODERATE – plan and prepare

HIGH - Be Ready to act

EXTREME – take action now to protect life and property

CATASTROPHIC – for your survival leave bush fire risk areas

As well as the public-facing signage and community messaging, the new system has an embedded Fire Behaviour Index to support fire agencies with operational fire management decision making including:

  • Indicative fire behaviour, fire spread and fire weather
  • Implications for prescribed burning
  • Fire suppression and containment strategies that are appropriate
  • Potential for impact on life, property and infrastructure
  • Supporting cross border operations and resource sharing
  • The new system will go live on 1st September 2022 and will involve new fire danger ratings, fire weather forecasts on the Bureau of Meteorology website and signage across Australia.

    Note: the AFDRS complements the national warning icons which provide information about a hazard or bush fire incident that is impacting or is expected to impact communities (featured in the March 2021 newsletter).

    For more information about the AFDRS and a range of community resources visit

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