Fire nearing a refuge area during the 1995 great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake(Photo provided by courtesy of Mainichi Newspapers)The 1995 great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake resulted in some 300 separate fires that claimed some 500 victims and destroyed some 7,000 structures. A hypothetical earthquake in the northern part of Tokyo Bay has the potential to kill some 11,000, with some 6,200 of them fire victims (assuming a wind speed of 15 m/sec). The most effective measure against such simultaneous post-earthquake fires would be to get rid of the densely built-up areas with wooden structures, but doing so would take a great deal of time. Therefore, we believe an information system for the optimal utilization of fire brigades and the provision of wide-area mutual aid is necessary to enable the use of firefighting resources to the greatest extent possible.

Efforts toward that end cover a broad spectrum and include the immediate prediction of the spread of urban fires in real time following an earthquake, and considering the necessary firefighting resources, estimation of the success and failure of fire control, time needed for fire brigades to arrive at the scene, and water supply. We are keeping all these elements in mind as we develop our simulation system to allow for the optimal utilization of firefighting resources. We are also developing an information system to help provide accurate evacuation instructions to residents.

These systems are useful not only during earthquake disasters, but also when making advanced preparations, such as map exercises for fire brigades and also disaster-prevention offices of local governments.

A sample output of results obtained from urban fire spread simulation

Spatial distribution of post-earthquake fires at the 1995 great Handhin-Awaji earthquake