A group of researchers from various state fire agencies and research organisations was assembled by the Bushfire CRC to look at key issues arising out of the February 2009 Victorian bushfires.
The purpose of the research was to provide the Australian fire and land management agencies with an independent analysis of the factors surrounding these series of fires. This knowledge will be shared across Australia and internationally and has assisted the Royal Commission and other investigations and inquiries.
The research considered which fires were ordinary or extreme and which were extraordinary; that is, exhibiting fire behaviour outside known experience. Three research teams looked at the impacts of a selected sample of fires in order to gain a broader understanding of all the fires.
The Taskforce assessed more than 1300 homes, interviewed more than 600 residents and took more than 21,000 photographs. The Taskforce assembled researchers from state fire agencies and research organisations to examine the key issues in the bushfires. Teams of researchers have now completed their work in the field.
The research teams were comprised people with a mix of expertise in building analysis, human behaviour, community education, bushfire behaviour, fire weather, and fire investigation.
The Bushfire CRC has conducted similar research on behalf of fire and land management agencies after tragic fires in Canberra in 2003 and on the Eyre Peninsula in 2005.
Research teams examined the following areas
1. Fire Behaviour
Focussed on strategic fire behaviour – how the fires moved across different landscapes, different vegetation, and under variable weather conditions.
2. Human Behaviour and Community Safety Issues
This area examined:
Behaviour and decision making by residents
Community responses to bushfire warnings messages
The implications of these events on policy.
3. Building (Infrastructure) and Planning Issues
Patterns of loss and patterns of survival of buildings and structures
The notion of defendable space
Planning and building controls and their impact on patterns of building losses.