'Any prediction is better than none'? A study of the perceptions of fire behaviour analysis users in Australia
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2021, 00:00 authored by Timothy NealeTimothy Neale, Matteo VerganiMatteo Vergani, C Begg, M Kilinc, M Wouters, S Harris
Internationally, fire and land management agencies are increasingly using forms of predictive services to inform wildfire planning and operational response. This trend is particularly pronounced in Australia where, over the past two decades, there has been an alignment between increases in investments in fire behaviour analysis tools, the training and development of fire behaviour analysts (FBANs), and official inquiries recommending the expanded use of these tools and analysts. However, while there is a relative lack of scholarship on the utilisation of predictive services, existing research suggests that institutional investment and availability are poor indicators of use in contexts with established social dynamics of trust and authority. To better understand the utilisation of predictive services in Australia, we undertook a survey of key predictive services users (e.g. incident controllers, planning officers) in order to test several hypotheses developed from existing studies and ethnographic fieldwork. Our results provide directions for further research and indicate that, rather than simply invest in tools and systems, there is a need for fire management agencies to foster personal connection between predictive services practitioners, their tools and their users.