Publication Details

Eriksen, C., Penman, T. D., Horsey, B. L. & Bradstock, R. A. (2016). Wildfire survival plans in theory and practice. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 25 (4), 363-377.


Bushfire survival plans are a valuable tool for residents living in fire-prone landscapes. Plans include assigning trigger points for action, roles for all household members, and alternate approaches should the original plan fail. Fire agencies advocate that residents write, practise and discuss these plans before the fire season. In this study we use a multiple-methods approach to examine the theoretical and actual application of bushfire survival plans in south-east Australia. First, we review agency advice regarding survival plans to determine the consistency, clarity and specificity of the advice. Second, an online survey of residents examines the relationships between types of plans, with the planned action during a wildfire, gender and past experience with fire. Finally, semi-structured interviews with residents who have experienced wildfire examine the reality of decision-making, triggers used for actions and the role of survival plans. The study concludes that: a) fire agencies provide clear and concise information around survival plans despite some variation between states; b) preparation of survival plans is limited by the same range of factors that limit the extent of overall wildfire preparedness; and c) without a written, discussed and practised plan, decision-making during a wildfire may be impaired with potentially fatal consequences.



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