Community Fire Refuges

A community fire refuge is a designated building open to the public that can provide short-term shelter from the immediate life-threatening effects of a bushfire event.

Community fire refuges are one of a number of contingency shelter options contained in Victoria’s Bushfire Safety Policy Framework and should be considered in the context of all of the survival options available to a community in a high bushfire risk area.

Victoria has four Community Fire Refuges at Millgrove, East Warburton, Ferny Creek and Blackwood.  Plans for a fifth refuge at Lavers Hill are underway.

Video – A brief introduction to Victoria’s Community Fire Refuges

Background

In July 2011, the Government introduced the performance standards for the design and construction of community fire refuges. The construction requirements are currently the subject of a Ministerial Direction by the Department of Treasury and Finance.

Victoria’s Community Fire Refuges policy, was released by the Fire Services Commissioner (now the Emergency Management Commissioner) on 13 October 2011.  It has been updated (in June 2015) to reflect the learnings from the pilot program.

Download a copy of the Community Fire Refuges Policy 2015 (PDF 22 KB)

It provides the framework for identifying, establishing, managing and maintaining community fire refuges in areas of extreme risk where other bushfire survival options are limited.

Community Fire Refuges Pilot Report

As part of the implementation of the Community Fire Refuges policy, Community Fire Refuges was piloted at two school sites in the Yarra Ranges Shire and a co-located CFA fire station and Community Fire Refuge at Blackwood.

The pilot tested the previous policy for the provision and operation of refuges, including community understanding and involvement.

The pilot was independently evaluated, and is available for download Community Fire Refuge Pilot Program Evaluation

Additional information: 

Available for download is the:Construction & Project Management Guidelines for Community Fire Refuge  (PDF 1.1 MB)

Available for download is the:

Community Fire Refuge Signage Manual (PDF, 2. MB) 

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has developed a technical handbook for the design and construction of Community Fire Refuges.  It is available at www.abcb.gov.au (External link).