The concept of local knowledge in fire management has long been recognised as important. Rural communities carry most of the burden of bushfire and yet fire managers have often proceeded in the absence of key local knowledge held within these communities. Despite this, the significance of local knowledge in bushfire management, it’s meaning and practical application remain vague. Here the role of local knowledge is discussed as a tool in fire planning and explored as a crucial part of the community engagement process, allowing rural communities the chance to play a more active role in fire management. In turn, by way of two case studies in the high country, the impact of this involvement, or otherwise, is considered in relation to the resilience of two specific rural communities.