Are you ready? Ready for what? – Examining intended fire responses and preparedness by residents of fire prone areas

This is a paper presented at the 2013 Bushfire CRC Research Forum.

When it comes to preparing for bushfires, not all residents prepare to the same extent. In addition, they differ in the way they intend to respond to a fire threat. Results from a pilot study (Dunlop et al. 2012a, 2012b) suggest that differences in such intended fire responses may be related to differences in levels of preparedness for different types of preparedness. In order to further explore this we conducted a 2-wave field-study amongst residents of fire prone areas in Western Australia during the 2011-2012 fire season. Results from 229 respondents showed that those who intended to defend completed more defence preparatory actions than those who had more ambiguous response intentions (e.g. defend until fire directly threatens property), even though this latter group also holds defending as a viable option. Those who intended to evacuate completed the fewest defence preparations and the fewest property preparations, and had the fewest survival kit items. This study thus supports the idea that those with more ambiguous response intentions are more likely to end up being under-prepared.