Know the bushfire’s behaviour, manage the bushfire, protect the house, protect the nation.

Your choices

Your choices during a severe bushfire attack

You can decide what to do or you will be told what to do. The first four choices below are essentially your decisions, the last one is outside your control.

We have included results of a survey commissioned by the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission of 1100 people who experienced the bushfire attack. It might give you a picture of what they planned to do before the fire and what they actually did.

1 . Stay and defend

Intentions at the beginning of summer (2008 / 09) …
50% planned to stay and defend

What people actually did before or during Black Saturday (Feb 2009) …
40% stayed and defended
2% stayed to defend but the fire did not arrive

2 . Stay and shelter

Intentions at the beginning of summer (2008 / 09) …
Nobody listed this as an option, but 3% said they were undecided

What people actually did before or during Black Saturday (Feb 2009) …
4% stayed on property or nearby, not to self defend, but to shelter.

3 . Leave early – before fire arrives

Intentions at the beginning of summer (2008 / 09) …
1.8% leave on high fire danger days
16.8% leave as soon as they know a fire threatens their area

What people actually did before or during Black Saturday (Feb 2009) …
22.5% left before fire arrived

4 . Leave if threatened

Intentions at the beginning of summer (2008 / 09) …
26% said – Wait and see, ie, we will leave but only if it gets dangerous

What people actually did before or during Black Saturday (Feb 2009) …
21% left when fire arrived at their location
10.5% stayed to defend but left when it became dangerous

5 . Be told or be forced under pressure – Compulsory Evacuation

Intentions at the beginning of summer (2008 / 09) …
2% said wait for emergency services to tell them what to do.

What people actually did before or during Black Saturday (Feb 2009) …
Unknown
Anecdotal evidence:
State Emergency Services organised evacuations of vulnerable people from Marysville in late afternoon before the fire attack began.
Police organised a major evacuation convoy of 60 cars (200 people) that left Marysville as the fire attack began on the town.

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