Innovation and fire safety: good ideas to great solutions

State and territory fire and emergency services agencies have spent a lot of time, effort, and money on research over the last decade to improve their capabilities, capacity, skills, and readiness to fight urban and rural fires.

They have learned from world leaders, such as Singapore Civil Defence Force, and supported research organisations to investigate the best technologies and methods to protect the Australian community.

Initiatives such as the use of drones, artificial intelligence, and the new National Large Air Tanker are helping brigades to think laterally about what they can use and how they can better share resources.

But is there support for innovation on the front lines?  What new approaches are needed?  And how can industry and emergency services work together to deliver better, more targeted innovations to protect the community of fire?

Rob Webb headshot

Rob Webb

Chief Executive Officer, Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council

Mr Rob Webb was appointed Chief Executive Officer of AFAC, in December 2021. Prior to this, Mr Webb was Director, National Projects and Innovation at AFAC and served as Program Director for the Australian Fire Danger Ratings System.

Mr Webb is an experienced leader in the emergency management industry. Formerly Deputy CEO and at the Bureau of Meteorology for 26 years, he has extensive experience across multiple jurisdictions covering some of Australia’s most damaging natural disasters. Mr Webb specialised in extreme weather services, lead the Bureau in operations and gave expert evidence at Coronial Inquiries and post-event reviews. His meteorological expertise stretches from bushfires to thunderstorms, floods to heatwaves, tropical cyclones to tsunami. He has a strong interest in social science with a particular focus on empowering communities to make the right choices, at the right times, and is acutely aware of the value of social capital in supporting appropriate action.

He has forged strong partnerships with the emergency management sector at the local, state and Commonwealth level. Having spent a career working with state and territory emergency management authorities, Mr Webb has the knowledge of the challenges facing the emergency management sector. Mr Webb has experience in leveraging innovative practices to benefit multiple outcomes and understand the importance of taking a strategic view to create alignment across various activities.