At-risk householders' responses to potential and actual bushfire threat: An analysis of findings from seven Australian post-bushfire interview studies 2009-2014

Jim McLennan, Douglas Paton, Lyndsey Wright

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Abstract

Many populated areas of Australia are at high risk of bushfire. All state and territory rural fire services have community bushfire safety education programs providing information and advice to residents about bushfire danger, household risk assessment, and planning and preparing to leave safely or to defend a property assessed as being defensible. Following disastrous bushfires in Victoria in February 2009 resulting in the deaths of 172 civilians and destruction of more than 2000 homes, a programme of interviews with affected residents was conducted. This first study revealed generally low levels of both pre-bushfire perceptions of risk, and planning and preparation by householders. Between 2011 and 2014, six further post-bushfire householder interview studies were conducted. Despite fire agencies' community education endeavours subsequent to the 2009 fires: (a) appreciable percentages of residents interviewed in these six post-2010 studies did not believe that they were at-risk prior to the fire and had no plan for what to do if threatened; (b) of those with a plan, a minority were well-prepared to implement their plan - especially if that plan was to leave; (c) very few householders self-evacuated before the fire on the basis of fire danger weather warnings. The findings and implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

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