Rights: The University of Waikato Published 3 November 2009 Download

In this video clip, Grant Pearce from Scion’s Rural Fire Research Group at the University of Canterbury talks about whether people understand what is expected of them as the level of fire danger increases. This information is useful for fire managers who need to establish systems for getting their messages of fire risk across to people.


The key area being researched is whether the public are actually understanding what is expected of them as the level of fire danger increases. So we have got research that’s going on in different parts of the country, going out talking to members of the public – people in picnic areas, people on holiday in camping grounds – asking them about what the messages are that they perceive are being put forward by fire managers through the likes of the fire danger signs and whether that actually makes them change their behaviour as the risk increases.

Two key areas are helped by the research on fire causes and fire danger and behaviour as fire danger increases. They would be the fire managers who are looking to have the best science, the best system behind the fire danger signs, so that they can get their appropriate messages across to landowners and to the public, and then there are those other end-users such as the farmers and the members of the public that are going into rural areas that hopefully are better informed, better educated about what is expected of them and therefore are more cautious with the use of fire and are less at risk from 1) lighting a fire or 2) having a fire occur and then perhaps being threatened by that fire.

People are getting the messages about the behaviours that are expected of them. The landowners, the farmers, are more used to using fire as a land management tool and are much more aware of what is expected of them in terms of checking whether they require permits, checking the weather forecast to know whether they should be burning or not, and are much more aware of the consequences of a fire getting away.

Bushfire CRC, Australia