2010 Fire Awareness Awards, Victoria– SIA Entries Focus on a Community Fire Safety Culture (CFSC) Process

Monday, 23 August, 2010 - 10:00
Industry news


Dear SIA Members

I am pleased to advise that the Institute, largely through the professional efforts of the SIA National Technical Panel, and Kelvin Blackney FSIA in particular in developing a Community Fire Safety Culture (CFSC) process, has been invited to submit the attached entries to the 2010 Fire Awareness Awards in Victoria. The background to these entries is outlined below.

As news reports unfolded regarding Australia's highest ever fire damage and loss of life from Black Saturday in February 2009, members of the SIA concluded that the multiple causes were both foreseeable and avoidable. 

On the day the Victorian Premier Hon John Brumby MP declared that there would be a 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission the SIA members decided to engage the SIA National Technical Panel (NTP), chaired by Dr George Rechnitzer FSIA, to prepare a submission based on "Living Safely Culture". The SIA NTP invited the entire SIA membership to participate in the preparation of the submission that would cover design, standards, regulations, weather impact, procedures, research, planning and emergency services; that is, all the essential elements to enable an Living Safely Culture to flourish. The compiled submission was sent in May 2009 prior to the release of the Royal Commission's Interim Report, August 2009.

Disturbing report references regarding the State Government's unprecedented efforts and resources to inform the community of the fire risks faced by Victoria's residents had benefits; but, it could not on its own, translate levels of awareness and preparedness into universal action that minimised risk on the day of the fires. The SIA committee understood the next reference that said, "The effectiveness of any campaign depends on:

  • The quality of information;
  • Modes of dissemination;
  • Willingness and capacity of people to hear, understand and act; and
  • Shared responsibility between government and the people

As a generalisation, the disaster occurred as a result of people who had research based knowledge and expertise, being unable to engage the responsible organisations and communities to the point that they would and could take appropriate action to prevent this disaster.

With this in mind the SIA NTP turned their focus onto engaging communities based on industry based values-driven safety to capture people's beliefs and values whilst measuring the culture that enables favourable participation levels and predictive outcomes. Subsequently, the SIA NTP, under the leadership of Kelvin Blackney CFSIA, setup a pilot program in Lara, Victoria in September 2009 in preparation for the 2009-10 bushfire season. They monitored the program called Community Fire Safety Culture (CFSC) process through to March 2010.

Because the CFSC process had delivered on community engagement with specific outcomes, the SIA NTP submitted a second submission to the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission in May 2010.


Dr George Rechnitzer FSIA
Chair National Technical Panel
Safety Institute of Australia Ltd