Glossary

Bushfire
Unplanned vegetation fires that are a significant threat to life and property, increasing the vulnerability of communities located in high-risk areas. The intensity and frequency of bushfires are associated with extreme weather conditions and ongoing settlement growth. The higher risks of impact are more susceptible when human settlements are in proximity to flammable vegetation. Prevention, detection, damage, mitigation and suppression of bushfires are key to manage hazards; legislation, community education, response and urban planning improve field operations and bushfire control (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2019).

Building Code

It refers to regulations, policies and standards related with aspects such as design, construction materials and structure, occupancy and alteration of infrastructure, which are key to ensure safety and welfare of human beings in the built environment. Furthermore, it can include technical and functional standards, depending on the international and national circumstances (UNDRR).

Built Environment

Concept related to human-made surroundings and settlements, in order to satisfy human activities and necessities; cities and urban infrastructure, public space, supporting infrastructure such as energy sources and water supply, and any other complex of physical, chemical and biological agents and social factors, that can affect a community or individual (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2019).

Bushfire Exposure

The situation in which people, infrastructure, housing, production capacities and other tangible human assets are located in hazard-prone areas. Measures of exposure can include the number of people or types of assets in an area. These can be combined with the specific vulnerability and capacity of the exposed elements to any particular hazard to estimate the quantitative risks associated with that hazard in the area of interest (UNDRR). A risk-treatment approach to minimise exposure, is mainly by avoiding exposure altogether in the first place, before any need for subsequent remediation. For example, a strategic urban planning to manage residential growth patterns, particularly in peri-urban areas, avoiding exposure to hazards (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2020)

Bushfire high-risk location

It refers to the geographical, climatic and morphological conditions of a territory, in which a state of emergency or disaster exists, where an area is continuously or intermittently flammable due to the fast-spreading fire conditions related to the combination of vegetation, topography and weather characteristics (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 1998).

Bushfire Management

Activities related to prevention, damage, mitigation, detection and suppression of bushfires, including legislation and policy, administration, community education, law enforcement, capacitation and training of emergency personnel, media and communication systems, equipment, research, planning and the diverse field of operations taken by landowners and emergency services related to bushfire prevention and control (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2019).

Bushfire Response

To ensure safety and minimise the risk of bushfire hazard, the protection of health and basic subsistence needs are key to reduce the vulnerability through effective and efficient response; the development of risk-informed measures improves the response capacity of individuals, communities and organisations, promoting safety and a careful coordination of resources, and an active defence by emergency personnel, planes, helicopter, trucks or any rescue operation. Integrating related assistance from police, local government, earthmoving companies and interactions with news media are all important aspects (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2020).

Bushfire Risk

The exposure to bushfires is a risk for potential loss of life, injury or damaged assets, which can occur to a community or individual in a specific period of time and location, associated to the social, environmental and economic context. Land development and settlement growth in high risk areas could be managed by urban planning, where topography, vegetation, climate or any factor that causes disasters, can reduce exposure and impacts on communities and biodiversity. 

Climate Change

Refers to the long term changes in temperatures and climate patterns, they may seem natural variations in the solar cycle, but since the 1800s, due to the industrial revolution and the excessive burn of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide and methane, had been increasing, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures on the atmosphere. Some consequences of climate change, among others, are intense droughts and floods, water scarcity, severe bushfires, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, extreme storms and hurricanes and declining biodiversity (UN)

Community Wellbeing

It is associated with the safety and protection of individuals and the economic, social and environmental systems that support human life, promoting risk reduction across different catastrophic situations, like floods, extreme weather, bushfires and heat waves. This depends on the exposure and vulnerability of a community in a specific location (Land Use Planning for Disaster Resilient Communities Handbook, AIDR). 

Disaster Risk Management 

Corresponds to the implementation of risk reduction policies and strategies, to prevent future disasters, reducing the existing and the management of residual risks, promoting resilience improvement and the reduction of disaster impacts (UNDRR). 

Fire Behaviour

The way fuel ignites through flammable resources, increasing the intensity of the flames and fire spreads. The behavior of bushfires is influenced by how fuels, climate and topographic characteristics interact in a high risk location (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2020).

Fire Preparedness

Activities or strategies taken in advance to enable timely, effective and appropriate responses, to decrease bushfire frequency and its extent and severity, upgrading fire suppression and mitigation. Furthermore, it is associated with the capacities developed by governments, response and recovery organisations, communities and individuals, to efficiently anticipate and identify bushfire risks, and to respond and recover from potential hazardous events (UNDRR).  

Flammable

Resources or objects capable of burning with a flame; they could be ignited with a flammable source like gasses, vapours, liquids or solids. This will vary depending on the components present in the atmosphere or any flammable material (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2019).

Fuel

Any material or resource which can be ignited and sustains a fire; grass, leaf litter, branches, foliage and live vegetation  (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2019).

Hazard

Process induced by natural, anthropogenic or socio-natural factors that may cause property damage, social and economic impacts, health problems and environmental degradation. The origin could be combined by different situations, depending on the intensity and frequency related to hazards of a high-risk location, for example, human activities and natural processes could promote environmental and biodiversity loss related to climate crisis and extreme weather. Contrastingly, there are biological hazards that are associated with organic processes and biological factors; microorganisms, substances and toxins (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2020).

Improving Bushfire Recovery 

The reconstruction of the built environment, emotional, economic and social restoration of affected individuals or communities, is a supporting process that improves people’s lives in high-risk locations. Bushfires impacts are associated with infrastructure and economic loss, changes in the natural environment as far-reaching economic and psychological effects. The restoration of features of the previous circumstances are key to improve resilience and the capacity to return to normalcy. The opportunity to improve risk profiles in recovery is not always taken up. Urban planning often has limited formal ways to contribute during recovery. An alternative would be to establish mechanisms to identify potential improvements for risk-prone areas before events occur. This could allow considered approaches to be developed. Fundamental improvements to the risk profiles of settlements are possible especially during recovery phases (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2020).

Improving Bushfire Response 

The design, management and urban planning of high-risk areas can significantly improve the effectiveness of response in different areas; water supplies for emergency personnel, ensuring movement in and around settlements, access and active defense facilitation around structures, and the location of fire stations, refuges and safer places (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2020).

Mitigation

Strategies taken in advance, reducing or eliminating the impacts of a particular hazard on communities and the environment (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2020). Minimizing the consequences of disasters, in particular natural hazards, often cannot be prevented fully, but the scale, frequency and intensity, can be lessened by measures, including engineering, architecture and construction design, urban planning and vegetation management, which can improve environmental and social policies in high-risk locations (UNDRR). 

Resilience

The capability of communities in high-risk locations to resist, transform and recover from the impacts of hazard exposure in a timely and efficient conduct, including the preservation and restoration of basic subsistence needs and essential functions and structures through strategies that manage risk reduction and response. 

Risk Assessment

Qualitative or quantitative analysis that determine the extent of disaster risk reduction, through the evaluation of potential hazards and the conditions that define exposure and vulnerability in a specific location, where the frequency and probability of bushfires are more susceptible, due to the physical, social, health, environmental and economic dimensions that could affect livelihood (UNDRR). 

Risk Reduction

Refers to the techniques and management principles which are aimed at preventing future and existing disasters and managing residual risk, improving resilience capacity and sustainable development (UNDRR). It also prevents and reduces the likelihood of disasters through effective regulations and standards, government coordination and public awareness on disaster risk reduction. 

Urban Rural Interface

The limit or zone where structures and other human settlements overlap with bushland or non developed areas (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2019).

Vulnerability

The state of an individual after a community, structure, service or geographic location is likely to be disrupted or impacted by a hazard. The susceptibility of the impact could be related to physical, social, environmental and economic conditions in a particular area. Reducing vulnerability in situ, while related to exposure (proximity), is distinct and is a function of the characteristics of the particular at-risk element and its ability to withstand the hazard (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2020).

Weather Conditions

Climate patterns or phenomenons like rising temperatures, wind speed and humidity, which influence fire ignition, spreads, behaviour and suppression. In severe weather conditions, human beings are exposed to destructive or hazardous atmospheric conditions; for example, tropical cyclones, tornados, thunderstorms and heat waves (Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience 2019).

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