University fire research fast-tracked

University fire research fast-tracked

15 February 2011

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Australia — A UNIVERSITY survey set to be carried out in Brigadoon from this week, about how a community responds to fire emergencies, will get a funding boost after last week’s Swan Valley fires.

A team of psychology students will go door to door seeking information from residents for the research, which will be done in three stages.

UWA psychology department head David Morrison said the purpose of the research was to better understand how community members perceive, interpret and respond to information about bushfire risk and how it affects preparedness for bushfires.

“The first stage will look at different communities’ response and recovery behaviour and their level of preparedness,” he said.

“The second stage will focus on the information sources people use and how their decisions change based on how much anxiety they are under.

“The third stage will look into cognitive techniques – some people don’t worry at all and others worry too much.”

He said after the preliminary stage was complete, the group would look into ways to get greater input.

The research was prompted by a 2009 Victoria Bushfires Royal Commission Report that revealed some of those who perished in the Black Saturday bushfires were ill-prepared to defend their homes or did not have a fire plan.

The report also revealed many of the warnings and messages that were issued were inadequate, late or difficult to interpret.

Professor Morrison said the Swan Valley fires prompted FESA and the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (BCRC) to fast-track the research and funnel more money into the project.

He assured residents the researchers would be clearly identified.

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