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Report name
Inquiry into the 2019-20 Victorian Fire Season - Phase 1
Lead agency
EMV - Emergency Management Victoria
Due date
November 2020
IGEM considers that this action has been implemented
Recommendation theme
Recommendation 11: Evacuation
Recommendation details

The Inspector-General for Emergency Management recommends that Victoria Police – in collaboration with the community and the emergency management sector – reflect on events of the 2019-20 fire season to review and enhance evacuation plans and processes with consideration of:
a)    high risk areas (including remote locations)
b)    early evacuation triggers
c)    the potential for isolated communities
d)    the presence of tourists and non-residents
e)    individual decisions to not evacuate
f)    the inability to evacuate
g)    consequence management and compounding events such as the loss of essential services or health impacts.


The Victorian Government has committed to reviewing Victoria’s Code Red arrangements to ensure there is absolute clarity in relation to evacuation requirements and expectations. This work is expected to be finalised by November 2020.

Summary of progress

A Code Red day is the highest level of Fire Danger Rating and clearly informs the community and the emergency management sector, local government, business and industry that there is the potential for the worst possible bush or grass fire conditions. 

In early 2021 EMV led a review of the Code Red day determination process and communications approach. The EMC approved the revised document on 19 April 2021. 

Key changes to the document include the clarification of triggers and risk factors for determining a Code Red day and a decision support tool for the EMC to use when making a determination. It also identifies the possible impacts and consequences of a forecasted Fire Danger Rating of Code Red.

The revised document also includes updated key messages to support timely, consistent and relevant communication in preparation for, in determination of and during Code Red days. The document acknowledges that a communications risk or issue is the potential for public confusion as to whether a Code Red day is an instruction to evacuate. As mitigating actions, the document recommends the provision of clear information about 'leaving now', clear use of language regarding evacuation, and clear advice on recommended places to go to. According to the document, responsibility for these actions rest with the Emergency Management Joint Public Information Committee and the State Communications Cell.  

EMV has also developed a supporting document – a Code Red Day Communications Plan template – for use to guide strategic communications implemented by the State Communications Cell on Code Red days.