Backburning in controlling bushfires to prevent spreading


Back burning is basically a way of reducing the amount of flammable material during a bushfire by starting a small fire in front of a main fire front. Material that is burnt is unable to burn again. 


A simplified diagram showing a main fire front approaching houses with back burning a safe distance in front of the houses. The backburning fires are only usually quite small but enough to 'retard' a bigger fire. Back burning needs to occur when the wind is not going to endanger the houses. image: ClearlyExplained.Com

 It is called back burning because the small fires are designed to 'burn back towards the fire front'.

Why and how it works

The basic reason for back burning is so that there is less material that can burn when the dry hot summer comes around. Interestingly the carbon on trees( the black part) are actually quite fire resistant. Pure carbon, which is what most burnt material is, has a melting point of over 4726.85°C. In comparison, the surface temperature of the Sun is about 5504°C.

By considering factors like the wind it is possible to stop a major fire front by burning sections ahead of the fire that might be more in the line of property or housing.

It is also important to consider factors like geography (how hilly the area is for example). It can only be performed by firefighters with lots of planning.

Hazard reduction burning

This is something that usually takes place outside of the fire season often during winter.

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