CFA Bushfire Program: Planning Theme Outcome Evaluation

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

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned ReportResearch


This project was an outcome evaluation of CFAs Bushfire Program: Planning theme. The evaluation sought to investigate whether the following key outcome measures were met for the planning theme:
- Agencies are aware of bushfire and grassfire risk and are making appropriate preparations
- CFA have the capability and capacity to deliver information required to underpin effective fire management planning
- Improvement in coordination between agencies in fire management planning
- Local community members plan for bushfire
- Municipal Fire Prevention Officers (MFPOs) use the VFRR in their planning

Broadly, the research found that MFPOs were well informed and had a reasonable awareness of the risk of bushfire and grassfire in their municipalities. While the majority of MFPO’s were undertaking some planning activities, further investigation may be warranted to determine why a lower proportion had prepared a detailed vegetation management works plan, participated in bushfire incident management as part of the MECC, or issued permits to burn during the Fire Danger Period.

MFPOs indicated that the information and support provided by CFA in relation to fire prevention and planning had improved in the last five years. Similarly, MFPOs reported the level of coordination between council and CFA has improved in the last five years for fire planning and fire prevention. However, a lower proportion of MFPOs reported that information, support and coordination had improved in the last twelve months. Additionally, MFPOs perceptions of CFAs capability and capacity were low in comparison to perceptions of their own (and other municipalities’) capability and capacity. This may reflect the resource challenges being faced by agencies in this field. In order to ensure ongoing collaborative planning efforts, CFA should invest time and resources in developing and maintaining engagement with MFPOs and focus on developing internal capacity and capability in fire prevention and fire planning.
MFPOs had good awareness of the VFRR and a substantial proportion of them had used the data to inform planning. Additional efforts may be warranted to ensure MFPOs understand the VFRR data: particularly how to use it and how to integrate it into planning.

A majority of residents in high risk bushfire areas indicated they were well prepared and informed, and those in grassfire areas may feel less informed about where to go in the event of a grassfire. Given the changing nature of a ‘high risk grassfire area’, a cost/benefit analysis should be undertaken to determine whether further work is warranted in assisting residents in high risk grassfire areas to plan adequately. CIG coverage of high risk areas should also be further investigated as just over half of areas identified as high risk in VFRR were covered by a CIG.

This project analysed VFRR data in terms of risk and the application of mitigation treatments to address risk. Further followup of those assets classified as ‘treatment to be identified’ may be warranted to ensure that the VFRR has up-to date information. Additionally, an audit of VFRR content (including verification of treatments) may be useful in order to address this outcome measure however, this was beyond the scope of this evaluation. Changes to the wording of questions in community surveys should be considered carefully for the impact on assessing trends over time. In future community surveys, it would be useful to introduce some selected key questions to gain insight into the extent of any bias. Further work on improving planning for bushfires and grassfires may benefit from a foundation in an applicable behaviour change model, such as the social-cognitive model. Further investigation on the link between planning and improved survival, safety and resilience may be needed.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyCountry Fire Authority (CFA) (Victoria)
Number of pages103
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Community planning
  • Bushfire

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