No time to de(con)struct: The Accessibility of Bush Fire Risk Management Plans in New South Wales, Australia

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Abstract

Cultural heritage assets define our culture, providing a sense of place and emotional anchorage in space and time. As such they are regarded as assets worth protecting during disasters, including bushfires. Fire can damage cultural heritage assets through flames and radiant heat, and via inappropriate fire suppression activities during and immediately after a fire. Good planning can provide for the protection of cultural heritage assets during bushfires, but the information within the plans must be easily understood. This paper considers the accessibility of the information related to cultural heritage assists in all available NSW district bush fire management plans. Reading ease and reading age formulae were applied to each plan, and content analysis was used to explore the terminologies used, and the style in which the information was presented. The information regarding cultural assets in the plans was found to be difficult to read, replete with obscure terminology, and sometimes rambling and irrelevant; in short very inaccessible, especially in the high stress environment of a bushfire. The paper concludes with advice on improving the accessibility of these bush fire management plans, advice which will be equally applicable to other disaster plans which consider the protection of cultural heritage assets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Journal of Emergency Management
Volume22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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