RE: Any more dullards out there ...

Subject: RE: Any more dullards out there ...
From: "Kathy Bowman" <Kathy -dot- Bowman -at- saabsystems -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "Michael West" <mike -dot- west -at- bigpond -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 2009 10:49:45 +0930

And if the warnings had said the fires were 'large', the lawyers would
have argued that the warnings were unhelpful and that they should have
said the fires were umpteen hectares...
Lets face it, 'large' is relative and provides much less information
than 638 hectares.
My 2 cents worth.


...who don't think clear, targeted writing can save lives?

Let them read this.

CFA bushfire warnings on Black Saturday 'confusing'
Gary Hughes | June 16, 2009
Article from: The Australian

WARNINGS issued by Victoria's Country Fire Authority on Black Saturday
were confusing and badly constructed, the royal commission investigating
Australia's worst natural disaster was told today.

Disaster management expert Professor John Handmer said warnings
described the direction that fires were moving by using points of the
compass, rather than also referring to local geographic features such as
the nearest town.

They also referred to the size of fires in hectares, which might mean
little to people living on the urban fringe, rather than using terms
such as "large".

One CFA warning for a fire that started at Kilmore early on Black
Saturday and later killed more than 100 people said the township of
Wandong was likely to be impacted and was already being impacted in the
same message.

"It is more than quite confusing," said Professor Handmer, who is
director of RMIT University's Centre for Risk and Community Safety.

The layout of text warnings on the CFA website was also poor and made it
difficult for people to extract information immediately relevant to

Professor Handmer said a warning on the Kilmore fire issued about 2.30pm
on Black Saturday describing it as being 638 hectares was "not very
because only people living in rural areas would understand just how big
that was.

He agreed with royal commissioner Ron McLeod that it would have been
better to simply say the Kilmore fire was large, out of control and
moving quickly.

Professor Handmer said a lot of people did not understand the word
"imminently" used in CFA warnings about when fires would impact on
communities and simpler terms such as "happening now" or "immediately"
should be used.

Professor Handmer said there were a number of different ways of
interpreting the CFA's contentious "stay or go" policy, which encouraged
people to either stay and defend their homes or leave early on days of
extreme fire risk.

It was known that up to 30 per cent of people intended to "wait and see'
and not make a decision about leaving until a fire was nearby.

Professor Handmer said the policy assumed that people would know a lot
about bushfires and their own physical and mental capacities to deal
with one.

There could be a need for assessing the capacity of people to stay and
defend their properties.

The policy also did not take into account that on any given day a number
of people facing a bushfire would be suffering an illnesses or would be
impaired by alcohol or drugs.

He agreed with counsel assisting the commission Rachel Ward that alcohol
had been a factor in a number of deaths during the Ash Wednesday fires
in 1983.

The hearing into the Black Saturday fires, which killed 173 people and
destroyed more than 2000 homes, is continuing."


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