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FIRRE in Diamond Creek
Fire Insight and Risk Recognition Event
Like many Brigades around the State, Diamond Creek has had consistently poor attendance at Fire Ready Victoria meetings, despite being a relatively high bushfire risk area which came close to being impacted by the February 2009 bushfires.
In order to try and improve risk awareness in the local area, the Diamond Creek Fire Brigade decided a new strategy was needed for a public meeting. The Brigade believes that Fire Ready Victoria meetings assume local residents understand they are at risk and therefore want to come to a meeting to discuss planning and survival. The Brigade also believes that many Diamond Creek local residents are not even aware of their risk and therefore don’t believe they need to attend a Fire Ready Victoria meeting.
In order to overcome the lack of risk awareness in the local area, the Brigade decided the content of this meeting needed to focus on risk awareness – not personal survival and planning (that comes later – once risk awareness is understood by locals!). We decided that a simulated fire event using Phoenix Rapidfire software would be presented to local residents. CFA representatives presented the Phoenix simulation, while the local municipal emergency manager and a local Victoria Police representative spoke from their perspectives on the scenario and relevant planning points. In addition, a representative from the MFB was present and assisted with post-presentation education.
The scenario presented was an eye-opener for many local residents, who saw first-hand the potential impact of a fire in the local area. A lot of questions regarding fire behaviour, personal survival, traffic management and many other points were raised and some fantastic discussion ensued.
Approximately 105 community members attended, along with 35 children. The event was marketed as family friendly, and a range of kids activities were put on to encourage families to attend. Fire Ready Victoria meetings normally attract an audience of zero to 10 attendees in Diamond Creek, so this far exceeded the Brigade’s expectations.
The Brigade believes this meeting was a success primarily because:
- The event advertising was personalised. High risk streets were named on the advertising material and local residents commented many times that when they saw their street name on the posters believed the meeting must be important and relevant to them.
- The event was heavily advertised.
- The event was marketed heavily as child friendly and a range of kids activities were provided so parents felt comfortable bringing their kids along. The day of the week and time of day were also considered carefully.
Article by Fiona Macken, Diamond Creek Fire Brigade