NAFI’s Practical Mapping Tools: Viewing Maps

The North Australia (& Rangelands) Fire Information (NAFI) website provides maps of fire based on satellite images and point data to help fire managers across regional and remote northern Australia. NAFI data is used in day-to-day fire operations by a range of fire managers across Northern Australia, with different uses at different stages throughout the fire year. The tools on the site have been grouped into tabs according to their use. Clicking on these tabs (located below the banner) brings up different menus on the left of your screen so you can explore different fire management tasks.

The standard menu opens with the ‘Fire Maps’ tab selected. This provides a menu of pre-set maps that you can select to quickly bring up a map of the current year fire history and active fire in your local area..

Selecting a region of interest

Take the time to explore the different options on NAFI.

  1. Ensure you are in the ‘Fire Maps’ tab
  2. Under the ‘Areas’ button there is a list of ‘Preset Areas’. Click on your region of interest to bring up a map on the screen of recent fire activity in that area.
  3. Now click on the (►) arrow to the left of your region of interest to reveal sub group list of pre-set maps.
  4. Click on your sub region and the map will zoom to that area.
  5. Alternatively you can click on the satellite image in the vicinity of your area of interest to bring up a broad view of the region.

About the fire maps

Below is an example of a map with active fires shown as hotspots and burnt area mapping showing areas which have been burnt that year.

1. Hotspots

Actively burning fires from the last seven days are displayed as coloured points, or “hotspots”. The pink and red hotspots indicate more recently detected active fires and the blue hotspots are fires older than 24 hours.


Hotspots are usually updated a few times a day (see More about hotspots) but if you leave a NAFI fire map displayed for a long time hoping to see the hotspots update you will be disappointed. To see the latest hotspots you will need to either zoom in or out, or pan by a large distance to get the maps to update. If you visit the site briefly for the latest hotpots, and then close the site and visit it again later on, it will display updated maps.

2. Burnt area

Areas of land burnt in the current calendar year are shown as coloured patches with the colour corresponding to the month in
which they were detected as being burnt. The warmer colours (yellow, orange, pink and purple) have been allocated to those
warmer months where fires are generally more intense.

3 & 4 Navigation

  1. A standard navigation bar is located at the top right of your map. It is similar to that used on Google Maps, with a slider bar and arrows for panning.
  2. The “H” history buttons below allow you to go back and forwards through the maps you have viewed.
  3. You can also zoom-in or zoom-out by selecting plus or minus magnifying glass buttons at the bottom of the map. Once selected the zoom option includes either clicking on the map in the area of interest or click and hold down the mouse to create a zoom selection box. Once the mouse is released the map will zoom to the selected area.
  4. A pan button is also available for you to click on the map and drag/pan.

5. Basemaps

You can choose from different background map options by clicking on the small image in the upper right of the map as you would in Google Maps.

Choices available are: line/topo maps (default), line maps, and topographic maps as well as the Google satellite image.

Handy tip

When viewing maps using the satellite image background a slider bar is available which allows you to fade the fade or brighten the burnt area overlay.

6. Quick Links

The quick links button provides a dropdown menu which enables handy options to turn layers such as hotspots, burnt areas and layers that assist with fuel guides on and off on your map.

Explore each of these features on NAFI

  1. Sometimes Hotspots can get in the way if you are looking at historical burnt area mapping in your area of interest. Simply open the ‘Quick Links’ window by clicking on the ‘Quick Links’ button and uncheck Current Hotspots.
  2. Burnt Areas – if you are in an area that is covered by Hi-Resolution mapping you can switch between the standard MODIS mapping and the available Hi-Res mapping by selecting the layer of interest in the ‘Quick Links’ drop-down menu.
  3. Other layers which can provide a quick guide to expected fuel loads can also be switched on and off in the ‘Quick Links’ menu.
  4. The menu can be closed with a click of a button without changing your selections.

Standard Map

Where ever you are when navigating the NAFI website layers you can simply click on the ‘Standard Map’ tab which will bring up the current years burnt area mapping and hotspot layers.

Hiding the menu

To make more room on your map you can hide the left-side menu by clicking on the arrow at the top left. Simply click the arrow again to restore the menu.

The Mask

You will notice that if you go far enough to the north, east south or west you will come across a grey border that masks off areas further out. This marks the limit of the NAFI service: no hotspots or fire scars are mapped in these regions, although some hotpots may sometimes appear just across the grey border.