This project was commissioned and funded entirely by Fire & Rescue Service New South Wales.
Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) engaged the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and Risk Frontiers to examine the effectiveness of Community Fire Units (CFUs) activated in the Blue Mountains, NSW during the period of heightened bushfire activity from 17 to 23 October 2013. Four focus groups, one interview and an online survey were utilised in order to explore 1) the activities undertaken and their impact on damage reduction and 2) the effectiveness of the equipment and training provided to CFU members.
Fieldwork was conducted between December 2013 and February 2014. The questionnaire was completed by 328 CFU members, giving a response rate of 32.5%. The predominant respondents were men, aged 55–64 years, working full-time, living in their own home as a couple without dependents and working more than 20 km from their home. A total of six CFUs were included in the focus groups and interview, with a total of 22 men and three women in attendance. All four focus groups and the interview were digitally recorded and professionally transcribed. Salient themes in the qualitative data were coded according to the specific aims of the research.
The conclusions and findings section summarises the most salient points emerging from the quantitative and qualitative results in relation to the aims and objectives of the research. These findings are provided for FRNSW to consider in the context of their CFU program.