Experts say Australia's bushfire warning system is not up to scratch, as they predict extensive fire activity this summer.Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre project manager Jim McLennan said fire safety messages are still not getting through to householders, even after Victoria's 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
Interviews with almost 500 survivors of the Black Saturday blazes showed people understood intellectually a risk was present, but that didn't necessarily prod them into action.
"After fires in WA early last year, they found the same thing," Dr McLennan told reporters.
"Overall they have failed," he said of emergency warning systems.
He described a "disconnect" between the warnings being sent and people's willingness to act.
"Somehow fire emergency agencies have to get the danger and need-to-prepare message not as much into householders' minds but somehow into their bones and their guts," Dr McLennan said.
The Bushfire CRC expects there will be again be extensive fire activity in central Queensland, southern NSW and Western Australia in the 2012/13 bushfire season, as well as blazes in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
A summer of fast-moving grassfires as opposed to high-intensity forest fires is expected.
Bushfire CRC research director Richard Thornton said when the drought broke around 2010 Australia's high fire-risk areas shifted from its bushy fringes to its grassy centre.
"What we started to see was large areas of grass growth that occurred through the centre of Australia. This year's seasonal outlook sees a similar pattern," Dr Thornton said.
"What we saw last year was extensive fires through central Queensland, through southern NSW and into WA. This year's seasonal outlook sees a similar pattern."
He said there were large areas of grass growth in central Australia that meant a heightened potential for fire.
The most recent seasonal outlook, from November 21, indicates rainfall is likely to be neither above nor below median levels this bushfire season.
However, a "normal" season meant fires were expected.
"We know that Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and NSW are all very fire-prone in any normal year, so it's expected you will see fire in those areas," Dr Thornton said.