Building community awareness of fire risks

Scion’s Rural Fire Research Team has recently developed a range of new tools and technologies, including the Guide to New Zealand’s Fuels, smartphone apps for fire behaviour, mapping the risk of wildfire in rural-urban areas and recommendations on community communication. 

The Guide to New Zealand Fuels contains 110 pages of images and technical descriptions of the different fire fuel types in New Zealand, making it easier for fire managers to choose the most appropriate behaviour model to use in prediction tools such as the Fire Behaviour Field Manual or smart apps. 

The research team has developed a way of mapping the risk of wildfire in rural-urban areas. Areas that are particularly vulnerable are where flammable vegetation borders people and property, jeopardising people’s lives should fire break out. 

The ‘Effective Communication’ study, led by social scientist Lisa Langer, has found that communicating with communities in wildfire areas is not a simple one size fits all approach. Information should to be tailored to take into account the needs and motivations for each individual audience group. This study is part of a wider Australasian Bushfire CRC programme, ‘Communicating Risk’, led by RMIT University in Melbourne.  

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Image credit: Scion