Journal article

A 'responsibility for place' - firefighter deployment, local knowledge and risk

Tarnya M Kruger, Ruth Beilin

International Journal of Wildland Fire | CSIRO PUBLISHING | Published : 2014

Abstract

This research considers ideas about local knowledge and place for firefighters during a bushfire. In 2012, we interviewed 68 Australian bushfire firefighters from selected agencies and volunteer brigades in diverse localities. The findings from the interviews indicate local knowledge can help firefighters to navigate tracks and understand fire behaviour in familiar landscapes. At the same time, they can experience a heightened awareness of the fire on local people and valued assets. This sets up a 'responsibility for place', which can both mediate actions during the fire and increase risk to the firefighters involved. A distant fire can present many unknowns and potential hazards for deploye..

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University of Melbourne Researchers

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Funding Acknowledgements

This research was supported through a scholarship provided by the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre, Australia. We thank Blythe McLennan (RMIT University) and Karen Reid (University of Melbourne) for comments on drafts and thank the anonymous reviewers and the associate editor for their constructive feedback. We especially thank the firefighters interviewed for this study.