The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission (VBRC) made several recommendations about improving community bushfire warnings for the Victorian community.
The Fire Services Commissioner (FSC) sought a comprehensive audit and review of systems and processes for issuing information and warnings to determine how to best move towards single systems, processes and technologies that deliver more accurate information and warnings to communities more quickly to help people to make informed decisions.
The review had four objectives:
Assess the timeliness and relevance of warnings that the community receives during a bushfire and ensure they lead to appropriate action.
Analyse the policies, procedures, practice and systems used by the Incident Management Teams in triggering, developing, distributing and ensuring action by communities during a bushfire.
Compare and consider other jurisdictional experience and practice in the delivery of community bushfires (warnings) and other emergencies (emergency warnings) to identify areas of improvement.
Consider what the community needs are in regard to warnings and delivering this expectation.
The final report of the review was delivered in July 2011. The review found that considerable progress had been made with policies, procedures, practices and systems, particularly in response to the Royal Commission recommendations.
It also highlighted that further work was required to address capability, capacity and management of Information Sections within Incident Management Teams, systems for disseminating warning, timeliness of warnings and the lack of a framework for evaluating all aspects of the total warning system.
The Fire Services Commissioner has worked with the fire services to implement the review findings. The majority of improvements were implemented and embedded in practice prior to the 2011-12 summer fire season. A number are now linked to long-term strategies and work continues.
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