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Lessons Learnt from the Victoria Wildfire

Discuss about the Assessment and Performance Planning.

Since the event of the bushfire in Victoria, many surveys have been done in connection with what happened and what need to be done to curb such house losses in the future. The main questions, which result from the loss rotate, are what are the major conditions, which gave rise to such house losses? Different views have been offered by different experts on what can be done in order to prevent many losses, which result from the bushfires. From the surveys, it is clear that different modes do apply when the bushfire is attacking the house. This is able to result to different levels of damages o the houses (SBS News, 2014). This paper will be able to analyze the lessons which were learnt from the house loss survey in Victoria. In addition, this paper will move into details to the conditions, which gave rise to the house losses and make a conclusion on the state of house survival under the conditions. Lastly, this paper will analyze the final report of the Victorian Royal Commission and analyze whether it helps in providing better building and construction conditions to curb such house losses in future in relation to the state and territory rules. 

Different house loss survey has been conducted since the Victorian fire happen to determine what went wrong to have as such increased house losses in the location from the wildfire. One of the key lesson learnt is that the prevent mechanism on the houses was not meant to cater for the wildfires. It was clear that the construction standards on the location took little account of the risk of the bushfire although the area was known to have such risk. This is a key consideration which should have been made during the construction and ensure proper mechanisms were taken to minimize the house loss in case of the risk happen (SBS News, 2014). The surveys conducted on the houses lost shown that very little was done to minimize such risks on the event of happening. In addition, another key lesson learnt from the wildfire and event is that the warnings about imminent fires or even fire weather and the key advice about evaluations procedures were confusing (Government Printer for the State of Victoria, 2010). This means that the time to come into way forward on the way to handle the fire would be long and thus lead to much damage. On the event of risk occurring, quick resolution methods, which are performed without confusion, are always required to minimize the damages (Leonard and Blanchi, 2005). This was not the case and a lot of damage resulted from the confusion of the mechanisms applied.

Conditions Giving Rise to Losses

In addition, the preparation for the disasters is a key mechanism to reduce the amount of losses which are experienced. With proper disaster preparedness, the house losses would have been minimized. The key lesson from the 2009 wildfire and the magnitude of the house loss on the location is that there was no proper disaster preparedness in terms of emergency services command and control. Event with the presence of valiant efforts of the personal and crew efforts in the field to control the loss, the worst of the loss was experienced (Evans, 2009). The preparedness is much experienced with clear guidelines of the individual responsibilities, which are well defined to help attain the supreme charge on the emergency operation. This helps to minimize the key conflict areas since there are guidelines of the personnel in charge (Leonard, Blanchi and Bowditch, 2004). The damage experienced was able to show that the definition of the responsibilities was not clear. The lesson learnt is that the emergency services protocol need to be revised for it to enact well to help minimize the losses, which are experienced.

Communication is key when some of the emergency events do occur. The level of the emergency services was tested on this event and it was leant the communication channels were not such clear to curb the damages (The Age, 2014).  The communication infrastructure, which composed of the hotline for contacting the emergency services were not working well and this led to failure to have the much anticipated help on time. Moreover, it was leant that the emergency services were not structures to handle such key emergencies even with the Victoria location being classified to be at high risk of the wildfires (Muller, 2015). Moreover, it was even learnt that the media was not even able to have the proper coverage and their alerts were inadequate.

In addition, the relevant available services were found to be able to contribute to the increase of the wildfire (Government Printer for the State of Victoria, 2010). The commission analyzing the event found pout that the fault in power cables and the supporting infrastructure, which was supporting the state electricity services, was able to add to the house losses (University of Melbourne, 2013). The defectiveness of these services was a clear indicator that poor work was done and this was able to increase to the amount of loss. It was clear that changes on the amenities provision needed to change and provide better services to the location which will not increase the depth of damages on the location.

Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Services

There are conditions, which were alighted and known to have contributed to the increased level of house damage during the event of wild fire. First, the failure to have the proper building construction methods, which were able to take care of the fire risk, was able to give rise to the loss (Wendy Balderstone and Bowan, 2006). The building conditions were a major cause of the loss on the event. The failure to have the best buildings, which were suited to minimize the losses, was able to agitate the amount of house loss which was experienced. From the high level of house loss, which was experienced. It is clear that the building condition need to change and suite the mechanisms, which are able to minimize the house losses. About 2132 homes were lost on the event of the wildfire in Victoria. Most of the homes were not well structured to handle and withstand the fire risk (Douglas and Tan, 2005). This is a mistake, which was done during the construction stage. The chances and building survival state was poor on the event of the bushfire and this led to an increase of the house loss on the location. According to authorities, the construction standards on the Victoria location have changed in order to suite the preventive mechanism of such fires (Government Printer for the State of Victoria, 2010). The buildings mechanisms have been in cooperated with mechanisms, which can withstand fire, while the fighting the fire goes on. This key strategy is able to minimize the losses, which are experienced.

From the analysis of the bushfire in Victoria, 173 lives were lost while the owners were trying to protect their properties. The understanding of the evacuation strategy was not clear and this led to an increase of the loss of the lives. If the authorities would have provided a mechanism of the fire evacuation, this would have saved the lives of those who moved to protect their properties (Leonard et al., 2005). The building state had low chances of surviving the fire considering the weather condition, which was windy. Therefore engaging the individuals on the fight with fire and consideration of the buildings, which would not withstand the fire, was a wrong move and led to the loss to the lives (Ellis, Kanowski, and Whelan, 2004).  The conditions of the buildings at this time tell us that it was impossible to control the fire considering the construction methods used. According to the final report, the building design and town planning are key elements, which are able to contribute to high property and house loss in case of the wildfire. These are two main factors, which were able to contribute to the high level of fire on the Victoria wildfire.

The disasters such as the bushfire need proper preparedness. The unpreparedness or the low preparedness of the organizations and communities in Victoria in relation with dealing with the bushfire lead to the massive loss of the Black Saturday Bushfire (Graham, Faculty of Business and Economics, and University of Melbourne, 2015). With the low level of preparedness to deal with such calamities, the buildings were unable to with stand the fire and therefore led to the increased loss of property. The strategical level of dealing with the risk is a proper way to minimize any loss, which may be experienced. The lack of the authorities to have unclear preparedness method was a clear condition that the losses were aggravated that it could have been done with proper strategy (Government Printer for the State of Victoria, 2010). The strategy employed had a great say on the level which the building were able to survive on the given fire intensity. With the lack of preparedness, the buildings were unable to withstand since the fire duration was extended a lot.

There are different recommendations which were presented by the Victorian Royal Commission due to the existence of this incident. This are will have a look on the recommendation on the planning and building. This area is able to relate to the curbing of the house loss, which was able to happen.  The first recommendation, which this commission was able to come up with, is that the state should identify a central point of responsibility for and expertise in mapping bushfire risk (Government Printer for the State of Victoria, 2010). This would aid the authorities to urgently ensure that mapping of the building which are at risk of fire are identified and the control measures are devised. In addition, this recommendation is meant to ensure that bushfire areas a designated well for the purposes of planning the building and construction methods and control measures.

Another key recommendation of the commission is that the state should amend the Victoria Planning Provisions to ensure that the native vegetation is removed around the residential areas for fire protection purposes. This would ensure that there are no factors, which are contributing to an increase in fire, and therefore making the houses more prone to fire. The embers are able to result to most burnt houses from bushfire. The control of vegetation will ensure that this cause is prevented and therefore loss is prevented. In addition, flames from the bushes are able to lead to fire catching the houses (Ellis, Kanowski, and Whelan, 2004). Controlling the vegetation on these areas will help control the house loss due to bushfire. Implementation of this recommendation would work well to control the losses. The state government has tried to implement this but requires more synthetizes on the resident to ensure that the clear the bushes frequently. The authorities need to implement the strategy through educating the public and ensure that the same public takes care of its own fire control measures.

In addition, another key recommendation the commission came up with is to ensure that the state municipal councils need to adopt bushfire policy in their planning policy framework and in cooperate bushfire risk management planning policies and strategies (McLeod, 2003). These are meant to ensure that the rebuilding of the structures is able to meet the specific standards which can help the buildings withstand the bushfires for a longer duration. The states have enhance the building authorities to implement the construction of the buildings to meet the specific levels for their approval. This is to make sure that the house loss is minimized in case of the bushfire. In addition, the commission recommended the amendment of the objective of AS 3959-2009, Construction of Building in Bushfire prone areas (Standards Australia, 2009). This amendment ensures that the ignition from ember attack is reduced. The state has done the relevant recognition of the rule changes to ensure that the house.

Conclusion

In conclusion, different lessons on what need to be done in the Bushfire prone areas were largely learnt from Black Saturday Bushfires. The damages and the key precautions, which need to be done, were clearly indicated from this event. Different conditions such as the state of the buildings and the preparedness level of the relevant authorities are cited to be the key promoters of the losses, which were experienced on this day. The Victoria Royal Commission onto this event was able to recommend about 67 recommendation, which would aid the curbing of such losses in future. The state governments have taken up the mandate to implement them and are considering Victoria more safer than before.

References

GRAHAM, D, FACULTY OF BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS, AND UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE (November 2015). Learning to learn from bushfires. https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/learning-to-learn-from-bushfires

ELLIS, S., KANOWSKI, P., WHELAN, R., (2004). National inquiry on bushfire mitigation and management, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

LEONARD, J.E., BLANCHI, R., AND BOWDITCH, P., (2004). Bushfire impact from a house's perspective. Proceedings Earth Wind and Fire – Bushfire 2004 Conference, Adelaide. 

LEONARD, J. AND BLANCHI, R, (2005). Investigation of bushfire attack mechanisms involved in house loss in the ACT Bushfire 2003. Highett, Vic., CSIRO Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology. Bushfire CRC report.

LEONARD, J.E., et al., (2005b). Research and investigation into the performance of residential boundary fencing systems in bushfires. Highett, Vic., CSIRO Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology. Bushfire CRC report.

MCLEOD, R., (2003). Inquiry into the operational response to the January 2003 bushfires in the ACT, report, ACT Gov, Canberra, A. C. T.  

WENDY L, BALDERSTONE S. AND BOWAN, J. (2006). Events That Shaped Australia. New Holland. pp. 154–158. ISBN 978-1-74110-492-9.

MULLER, D. (2015). Media Ethics and Disasters: Lessons from the Black Saturday Bushfires  

STANDARDS AUSTRALIA (2009).  Australian Standard AS3959 – Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas (incorporating amendments 1, 2 and 3).  SAI Global 

DOUGLAS G. AND TAN Z. (February 2005). Integrating Site Assessment and Performance Planning Outcomes for Bushfire Prone Areas. Paper presented to Planning for Natural Hazards—How Can We Mitigate the Impacts? Symposium. University of Wollongong, 14pp. in vUWS.

EVANS R. (July-August 2009). The Lessons of Black Saturday. Quadrant Online.

GOVERNMENT PRINTER FOR THE STATE OF VICTORIA, (July 2010). Report of the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission. PP No. 332 – Session 2006–10.

UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE (February 2013). Lessons from Black Saturday: Improving predictions of extreme fires. https://phys.org/news/2013-02-lessons-black-saturday-extreme.html

THE AGE (February 2014). More lessons to learn after Black Saturday. https://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-editorial/more-lessons-to-learn-after-black-saturday-20140206-324g7.html

SBS NEWS (February, 2014). Black Saturday lessons learned: Reforms inspired by Victoria's Black Saturday royal commission have been credited with saving lives during the state's latest bushfire crisis. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/02/11/black-saturday-lessons-learned

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