Bushfire residential sprinklers project

The threat to the Australian community, environment, and economy from bushfires is well documented and part of the Australian psyche.

The impacts of climate change, more severe bushfire conditions, a growing population, and more housing construction at the urban/bushland interface is likely to increase this threat.

Currently, construction in accordance with AS3959 Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas generally involves the use of passive fire protection systems.  Some have expressed concerns that that these solutions can be expensive, and that available products are limited.

Bushfire sprinkler systems may offer an enhancement or alternative to passive protection, but they are not mandated by the National Construction Code, and they have different design and performance characteristics, and cost implications, than normal residential systems.

A research program, led by Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition Australia is examining the feasibility of providing a fit-for-purpose safe, reliable, and cost-effective automatic home fire sprinkler system to protect a domestic dwelling in a bushfire and from typical home fires.

In this session, some of the participants in this project will provide their perspectives about the project and its potential benefits.


Mark Potter

Board of Directors, FPA Australia

Mark Potter is a proven executive with experience in providing leadership across complex and diverse roles. He has a strong background in developing internal and external relationships, operating in complex and technical environments, leading teams through significant change and steering strategy into action.

 Mark’s career has seen him undertake executive level roles within the emergency management, vocational training and not for profit sectors. During his 30 year career within the emergency management sector, he has performed various roles, including bushfire safety, structural fire safety and incident management. Mark has extensive experience assessing emergency risk from the landscape level to individual properties and turning this into effective management plans. In his current role he works with small to large organisations in undertaking risk assessments in a bushfire and emergency management context.

In 2021 Mark was elected to the Fire Protection Association Australia Board and is also Chair of FPA Australia’s Bushfire Technical Advisory Committee (TAC20).

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Mark Whybro AFSM BA MBT GIFireE

State Manager - NSW, FPA Australia

Mark Whybro retired from Fire and Rescue NSW in 2021 after 40 years’ service, most recently as Assistant Commissioner with state-wide for prevention and education. He continues to work in public safety: as an Adjunct Fellow helping with fire safety research at Western Sydney University and engaged by FPA Australia to help with the significant building regulatory reform program underway in NSW.

Since its relaunch in 2019, Mark has chaired the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition Australia, a strategic partnership between AFAC and FPA Australia, established as the national independent source of information to the community, industry and Governments about the life-saving value of residential sprinklers.


Dr Alan Green

Research Fellow - Sustainable Buildings Research Centre, University of Wollongong

Alan Green is a Research Fellow at the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) at the University of Wollongong. He was awarded a PhD in 2019 for research into the performance of external water spray systems in protecting buildings from bushfire.

Alan’s background is in mechanical engineering, with industry experience in research, mechanical design and manufacturing.  His keen interest in fluid dynamics and heat transfer has given him the opportunity to work alongside researchers in the Netherlands, UK, USA and Portugal.  Much of this work has focused on the design of experiments and equipment for studies of wind, heat transfer and multi-phase flows, as well as numerical and analytical simulation techniques such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

Alan’s current research focuses on technical aspects of building for bushfire protection, building retrofits, building thermal performance, and other topics in building physics.

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Associate Professor Kathy Tannous

Senior Research Fellow - Transitional Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University

Associate Professor W. Kathy Tannous is a health economist and economics and finance senior lecturer in the School of Business and Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Translational Research (DOMTRU) at Western Sydney University. She has a strong research program focused on using linked health administrative and surveys data for predictive modelling. Kathy is currently overseeing a 3-year study on predictive modelling of health trajectories using US Medicare data with Southern Methodist University. In addition, for the past two years, she has been working with colleague on measuring the economic cost of the diabetic foot using 45 and Up survey data linked with hospital, MBS, PBS, and mortality data. The measurement of health and economic cost of residential fire research is currently her research focus continuing with an approved and funded NSW population level linked data study using hospital, ambulance, deaths, fire incidents, computer aided dispatch, general insurance claims and burns unit (for incidents from 2005 to 2019) for the period up to 2022. She is currently supervising 8 PhD students in total with 7 on industry sourced scholarships. She had grants to the value of $2.8 million and since 2015 (as CI) and been actively undertaking evaluation and commissioned research projects with Fire & Rescue (FRNSW), Department of Justice, NSW Rural Fire Service, South Western Sydney Primary Health Network, The Butterfly Foundation and the Australian Red Cross. She is part of a team of researchers on an NHMRC linked grant titled The Pasifika Preventing Diabetes Programme ($2.2 million) (2019-2024). She has over 90 publications that comprise combinations of journal articles and industry reports including economic cost studies at the health system and societal level of unwanted fire alarms, low health literacy, maternal oral health and eating disorders.