Bushfire community survey analysis

Rebecca O'Hara, Carlyn Pauline Muir, Lesley Margaret Day

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned ReportResearch


The aim of this project was to explore specific elements of bushfire preparation through analysis of CFA’s Post-Season Community Survey. This annual telephone-based survey (commissioned by CFA) is undertaken by a commercial research organisation, and participants constitute a random sample drawn from 80 ‘high bushfire risk’ locations.

A range of statistical techniques were used, with the outcomes focused on levels of preparation for bushfire (by using actual and perceived preparation scores).

In summary, the results were generally consistent with previous research, and indicated:
- The average scores for actual preparation increased as levels of perceived preparation increased.
- Those who thought it was likely that they would get an official warning of a fire that could threaten the area had higher preparation scores than those who did not think it was likely.
- Those who did not intend to leave early in the event of a Code Red or Severe/Extreme fire danger day were more likely to engage in preparatory activities around their home compared with those who did intend to leave early.
- Higher levels of bushfire preparation were associated with: being male; owning (or mortgaging) your own home; being a household without children; accessing bushfire services in the preceding six months; and being a member of a Community Fireguard group.
- Higher levels of preparation were observed in those who talked to family and friends about bushfire risk in their area. Conversely, those who agreed with the statement ‘the thought of being involved in a bushfire makes me sick to the stomach’ had lower levels of preparation.

It should be noted that the statistical differences and/or effect sizes found in these analyses were often small and thus results should be interpreted with caution - additional factors are likely to be associated with the outcomes. There are some implications for bushfire preparedness. It is encouraging that those who intend to stay and defend are better prepared than those intending to leave early. It may be the case, however, that even those who intend to leave early (especially those with children) should undertake some level of preparation to protect their house from ember attack, and to also protect themselves should they not be able to leave early for some reason. The question as to whether those who intend to stay and defend are sufficiently well prepared was not addressed here. Groups that may need to be specifically targeted with programs to encourage preparation include female only households, renters, and those who are not already engaged in local community bushfire preparation activities.

These analyses present some interesting findings, and it would be useful to extend the analysis in the future. Survey responses could be used to test theoretical elements of bushfire preparedness, for example, using elements of Paton’s Social Cognitive Model of Disaster Preparedness.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyCountry Fire Authority (CFA) (Victoria)
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Bushfire
  • Preparedness

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