New Fire Danger Ratings

5th September 2022

THE NEW Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS) is here, and it’s time for you to know what it means to us here in Warrandyte.
As of September 1, the whole of Australia has moved to a standardised fire warning system that is much easier to grasp and more efficient to act on.
While many of us clearly understand that on a Code Red day, Warrandyte will be a ghost town, it was in response to one of Australia’s largest surveys that it was clear that the old ratings system caused issues for many Australians.
Common concerns were that the previous system was confusing, that there were too many levels and that there was little understanding around the different ratings represented, especially towards the orange and red end of the wheel.
The result is a new AFDRS, backed by research, with significantly increased contributing data indicators and, most importantly, is more easily communicated.
The new rating system moves towards a pinwheel with the following four colours; each requiring some level of action.
In addition to this, there is the white bar across the bottom left (beneath the moderate rating) where the arrow can sit to indicate when no specific action is required.
Moderate: Plan and prepare
Most fires can be controlled.
High: Be ready to act
Fires can be dangerous.
Extreme: Take action now to protect life and property
Fires will spread quickly and be extremely dangerous.
Catastrophic: For your survival, leave bushfire risk areas
If a fire starts and takes hold, lives are likely to be lost.
These periods of low fire danger no longer require a rating and are covered by the general advice of being aware of potential fire hazards in the home and workplace.
What does that mean for Warrandyte?
Warrandyte CFA welcomes the clearer descriptions and encourages all residents to revisit their bushfire readiness plans to take into consideration the risks that come with our beautiful green wedge and to determine what your trigger points are under the new system for your family, animals, and neighbours.
Lieutenant Camren Jones is responsible for the Warrandyte Brigade’s bushfire preparedness strategies and said the new ratings would mean the Brigades and the general public can be better prepared and make more informed decisions during the Fire Danger Period.
“The Warrandyte community will still get the same fire trucks and the same service from our volunteers,” he said.
Standardising the rating system Australia-wide also means the rating means the same, whatever state lines you cross or environments you may find yourself in when you travel.
The current model has been in place since the 60s, and it stands to reason that science and research have come a long way since then.
The old system is based on forest fire and grass fire indexes.
In reality, there are many other variations in fuel and landscapes, including shrublands, woodlands, and more desert-like environments that are more common as you get closer to the outback.
The new system draws data from eight different fuel types to provide a more comprehensive analysis – but for the folks at home, it is fine-tuned to the four action indicators of the new pinwheel.
Speaking to the science behind the new system: “Warrandyte will not change much with a largely forest-based environment,” said Lt Jones.
“The current system was developed in Victoria in the 50s and 60s and largely suited the terrain of Warrandyte and its surrounds,” he said.
“However, now there is more accuracy, less ambiguity, and with 64 data points for each category rating (rather than the previous two), there is less confusion around when you should act.
“You may find Pound Bend, state parks and playgrounds closing with more clarity; the messaging will be easier to interpret,” he said.
He added that despite the wet weather, now is the best time to review your fire plan.
“Despite the wet seasons of recent times, this is a timely and critical reminder to the community that now is time to re-evaluate your bushfire plans,” he said.
Where can I find the new ratings?
Information on the new AFDRS can be found on CFA’s website.
Forecasts will appear via all the regular media and emergency service channels, with VIC Emergency being your go-to for real-time updates.
It is important to note that these channels are the best source of information about current conditions.
While many local brigades have social media pages or a direct phone number – your best source for the most up-to-date information are the state-wide communication channels.
How to learn more about the system?
If you’re like our Lt Jones and find the science behind the new system interesting, then you can go to
If you don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty, visit
When will the road signs be updated?
Emergency Victoria has been tasked with the enormous undertaking of updating more than 3,000 signs state-wide.
While the local signs in the Warrandyte vicinity have not yet been updated, you can expect them to change sometime in the near future.
What do you need to do?
Warrandyte CFA encourages you to think about your preparedness plans, how they change with the new system, and to revise your triggers.
“We are asking all Warrandytians to familiarise themselves with the new rating system, be aware that some old signage may exist for a while, and not get confused by the differences.
“Most importantly, we want to make sure that every person, business, club and group, are making it a priority to review their preparedness plans to include the new AFDRS,” said Lt Jones.
Warrandyte CFA will soon commence their annual pre-summer training for the season ahead.
The brigade operates at an above-the-benchmark standard.
Members not only possess the minimum required skills but are also mandated to take on additional wildfire training, including entrapment exercises and hazardous tree training.
All members planning to participate in the summer season must undertake a pre-summer season practical challenge.
Always remember; if a fire starts near you, act immediately to protect your life.
Do not wait for a warning.