Volume 22 Issue 2, 2007

Exploring information for residents on websites of fire authorities — practical experiences

Bernd Rohrmann

Peer-reviewed Article

Bernd Rohrmann outlines a research project investigating the usefulness of websites as bushfire information sources

Archived Article


The project Potential of the internet for enhancing residents’ bushfire preparedness 2004–2006 (PIB) was carried out to analyse the capability and the utility of information sources provided by authorities for the public via the Internet/ WWW. Crucial research questions were: How well are these risk communication means used by residents, and why or why not? How likely are they to significantly advance problem awareness, preparedness and coping with actual fires? How can the usability and effectiveness of these tools for individual emergency management be improved? Last year, sub-study PIB-E Surveying bushfire events on websites – experience of people from different cultural backgrounds was conducted. Participants were experienced students; they assessed internet information of fire authorities in South Australia, Victoria and N.S.W., focussing on then present bushfire events. Predominantly, these websites were found to be informative, comprehensive and helpful. However, the respondents also identified shortcomings, in both content and presentation of fire preparedness information for residents, and stated limitations of addressing cultural variety. Obviously there is considerable potential for the improvement of websites. Pertinent suggestions and resultant research needs are outlined.