Success for Vic Fire Risk Register

Elizabeth (Liz) Calder and Michaela Boucher from the Risk Intelligence team attended the 2014 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference in May on the Gold Coast.

This international event captures the attention of emergency and disaster management practitioners and leaders around the world. The conference bought together key stakeholders involved in the prevention, management and recovery of major disastrous events in a forum to examine the issues surrounding natural and man-made hazards. Twenty countries were in attendance to hear from over seventy speakers and poster presenters on a contemporary and engaging range of topics, themes and emerging trends.

Liz delivered a presentation titled ‘Victorian Fire Risk Register: Supports and informs your plan’.  In her presentation Liz outlined how the Victorian Fire Risk Register – Bushfire (VFRR-B) identifies assets at risk from bushfire; assesses the level of risk and records treatments to mitigate the risk.  The register is Victoria’s first consistent bushfire risk register which is facilitated state-wide by the Risk Intelligence team from CFA HQ. Liz explained that workshop participants identify assets by spatially mapping a point, line or polygon including residential areas, schools, hospitals, infrastructure, tourism events and commercial industry as well as those that are environmentally and culturally significant.

Through an interactive presentation the assessment process was communicated through a number of pictures for delegates to understand the process Municipal participants are a part of, to establish the consequence and likelihood. Assessment inputs include the vegetation that threatens an asset, the distance from the vegetation to the asset and the slope of the vegetation. Liz described the conversation that generally occurs within the Municipal workshops when rating the susceptibility of residential areas, would be considering the access and egress of the community, their water supply, how prepared the properties are, the demographics of the area and if facilities have emergency management plans. This explanation painted a picture for the audience that once the participants have completed inputs, the consequence and likelihood is calculated, and a risk rating is automated as Extreme, Very High, High, Medium or Low risk.

Liz’s presentation concluded with a discussion on how a variety of agencies which include CFA, Department of Education and Early Childhood, Department of Human Services and V/Line have used the outputs and data from the VFRR-B to support and inform their bushfire planning. A delegate questioned if the VFRR-B aligns with other risk assessment processes, such as Community Emergency Risk Assessment (CERA) facilitated by SES. Liz responded that both CFA and SES acknowledged that the two risk assessment processes are similar and complement one another which eliminated repetition. The delegate was content that emergency services are working in collaboration to be effective and efficient.

Conference delegates that attended the presentation were impressed with how VFRR-B is established through workshops held at a Municipal level and wide involvement of multi-agency representatives from CFA, DEPI, Parks Victoria, Local Government, Victoria Police, utilities and water authorities. Additional positive feedback was received during Question and Answer sessions (Q&As) including, “the work that has been done is leaps and bounds ahead of any other state and is commendable”.

After an evaluation of all presentations Liz was awarded “Most Valuable Contribution to the Educational Program” with an impressive score of 30/30. Evaluation feedback stated that the presentation was “keynote speaker worthy”. The ‘Victorian Fire Risk Register: Supports and informs your plan’ presentation was a success story for CFA. In addition, there has been an overwhelming response to the VFRR-B success, creating an opportunity for Liz to repeat this presentation in the near future at CFA HQ, more details to follow.

• Check out the ‘Learning from risk intelligence’ article in CFA Brigade Winter 2014 magazine.
• The Risk Intelligence team will be presenting the VFRR-B at the CFA Community Engagement and Fire Awareness State Forum held in Preston during August 2014.