>Report of Operations 2007-08 - Research and Development
CFA's operational research and development is active in a number of projects. The following sections outline significant research activities.
Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre
CFA is the project leader on a multidisciplinary national research project within the Bushfire CRC. The CRC project on firefighter health, safety and wellbeing is being conducted in association with Deakin University and inter-state cooperation with Tasmania Fire Service, Fire and Emergency Service Authority and Department of Environment and Conservation in Western Australia, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, and the Department of Environment and Heritage and Country Fire Service in South Australia. The project is investigating the many factors that contribute to the health and safety of Australian firefighters during bushfire suppression. The project will improve the health and safety of firefighters by providing strategies to promote health and safety and to improve prevention of fatigue, injury and fatalities.
CFA and CRC researchers collected data on firefighters at prescribed fuel reduction fires in Victoria and CRC experimental large scale burns in South Australia during 2007-08. The researchers conducted project-related research that is consistent with CFA safety, welfare and operational requirements. Laboratory research has also been conducted using CFA rural brigade volunteers and recruit firefighters. The research is directed at managing the physiological stress that cause firefighter fatigue, the effects of dehydration and poor nutrition on firefighters, and the physical characteristics of firefighter fit-for-duty protocols. The work is improving the understanding of occupational health and safety issues faced by bushfire fighters.
The CFA has published several papers and conference posters on the CRC project, which are listed at the Additional Information section of this Annual Report.
CFA has actively supported the transfer of Bushfire CRC findings from research on firefighter health, safety and well-being on the fireground, through CRC seminar presentations to CFA volunteers and staff, and community stakeholders at Stawell, Bendigo and Ivanhoe. Research adoption is also occurring through a series of presentations to CFA Operations staff and to key AFAC stakeholder groups.
CFA is a significant participant in the development of end user requirements and the potential research program in support of the bid for the new CRC on 'Fire Environment and Society'. CFA has also proposed a new body of research through collaboration with Deakin University and the University of Ballarat in response to the call for proposals to the new CRC.
Crew Protection System
The testing and evaluation of crew protection system components at an experimental test platform and through field validation have resulted in the system components incorporated into the design of new tankers beginning in 2007-08.
The deck access hatch for dual cabin tankers has successfully been tested and is now a part of the design of new tankers.
CFA, in cooperation with CSIRO, has fire laboratory tested and evaluated new radiant heat protective curtain materials to support the use of the materials in firefighting appliance design.
Equipment Evaluation and New Technology
The equipment evaluation process continues to register new equipment and coordinate the assessment of new items and procedures. Operational equipment research is completed under CFA policy and process guidelines.
Evaluations and testing for 2007-2008 have included but have not been limited to:
- global positioning system units
- radio frequency identification technology
- CBR response products
- hydration backpacks
- firefighting hoses
- toxic air monitoring instruments
- compressed air foam systems
- fuels technology for CFA's operational fleet
- extension of use of water for firefighting (foams, gels, recycled water)
- use of robotics technology in urban, rural, and CBR applications
- satellite technology applications for fire observation
- personnel protective equipment
- Emergency Medical Response equipment.