For many Australians, the Fires Near Me app was the only indicator for the rapid approach of the raging inferno

Fires Near Me app


As of 14 January 2020, fires this season have burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares – an area equal to the size of Washington state, and 80 times larger than the total area burned in the 2019 California wildfires.   

Fires near me was used in almost every household in Australia.

A testament to solid cloud platform, smart build decisions and a passion to make an impact.

# 1
iOS and Android App Store
app downloads
Push notifications

How we dealt with the catastrophic

Arq group identified early in the build some latency and cost usage challenges in the earlier design of the watch zone push notifications. A key feature for the fires near me app. An important customer service requirement was that the system needed to handle 20 million simultaneous connections. 

Our scalability test was conducted on lambda, where we were able to deliver 20 million successful notifications over a 6 hour period, during load testing in a single region with no indicated instability.   

12 Million push notifications sent

Warning Aussies of the catastrophic fire conditions and total fire ban in place - Tuesday 12th November, 2019

“Besides the heroics and expertise in the field, and coordination of such a massive response to the bush fires, it’s also worth acknowledging the fantastic, understated brilliance of the #nswrfs app which has helped so many of us keep our family’s safe ahead of time. Thank you.”

– Michael Cracroft

Chief Security and Technology Officer, Service NSW

“Please download that Fires Near Me NSW app, you can be ahead of the game by setting watchzones around where you live, where you’ll be. The minute we have intelligences around a fire and its uploaded into our system, you’ll get push notifications from that smartphone app.​”

– Shane Fitzsimmons, AFSM

Head of Resilience NSW

(Retired Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service)

Built to scale

In 2019 Arq re-architected the Fires Near Me solution to service web and mobile applications. Given the critical nature of this service, Arq utilised the AWS Well-Architected review before build and release. As part of the process, Arq also identified the significant cost (with a non-serverless approach) to operate a notifications platform for all Fires Near Me users. It would have been cost-prohibitive for NSW RFS to fund this solution without the AWS platform.
RFS App - Can handle multiple incidents
From a pure architecture view, we did all of that learning and testing upfront pre-deployment.
And the push in that space was that the architecture had to sustain 10 million active users at a single time.
  So there were a number of learnings that came out of that. And, post-deployment, it’s more about feature improvement design flow and what else can we can do to improve it.
Dan Johnson
director arq
RFS Media Briefing NSW Premier
I urge people travelling this week to assess travel plans, and download the Fires Near Me app, especially as fires approach less rural areas
Gladys Berejiklian
NSW Premier

The power of cloud.

Scaling up when disaster strikes is the ultimate load test.

Fires near me delivered and utilised smart architecture decisions 

that ultimately saved lives but also cost effective load balancing.