Victorian Fires (2009) Research Taskforce

Taskforce TeamA 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.

RField Researcheresearch 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
Researchers examined:

  • 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.

The Mail Survey comprises three components:

Research Report

This is the final report from the mail survey, dated March 2011. It replaces the interim report released by the Bushfire CRC in January 2010.


This 32-page document is the survey that was completed by residents as part of research conducted by Bushfire CRC following the Black Saturday fires in Victoria on 7 February 2009.

Final Report

The Bushfire CRC delivered its final report to the Victorian agencies in October 2009. It is available below as a single download of 400 pages or as separate chapters. 

ISBN for full report is 978-0-9806759-8-6

Interim Report

This interim report of the Bushfire CRC Research Response Taskforce was tabled at the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission in June 2009.

Other Reports

Other reports provided to the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission were prepared under contract.

Related News and Stories

Taskforce News: March 2009
The Bushfire CRC multi-agency research taskforce is now into the fifth week of gathering as much information as possible about the fires of February 2009 in Victoria.
Taskforce News: April 2009
The Bushfire CRC multi-agency research taskforce has completed an intensive five weeks of gathering information about the fires of February 2009 in Victoria.
Taskforce News: May 2009
The Bushfire CRC multi-agency Research Taskforce has ended its data collection phase with the last teams completing their field tours in the final week of April.

In the media...

David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia
Thu, 26/02/2009