Firefighters from across the country gathered in Wollongong over the weekend to learn how to better engage with their communities to improve fire safety.
The Australian Community Engagement and Fire Awareness Conference, hosted by the NSW Rural Fire Service, was held at the North Wollongong Novotel on Friday and Saturday.
This year's theme was "Mission Possible", with speakers such as NSW RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, members of Fire and Rescue NSW, university academics and council representatives addressing issues such as community liaison during a fire crisis and building community resilience.
Inspector Michael Gray, RFS district service co-ordinator for the Illawarra, said the conference was a great chance to learn new ways to better work with the community on bushfire safety.
"We do live in a high bushfire risk area. With the summer coming, that imminent threat is there and it's something we're very mindful about."
His sentiments were echoed by Illawarra group captain Craig Robertson, who added that Illawarra firefighters always received positive feedback when they held community education programs.
Dr Jim McLennan, from La Trobe University, was one of the conference's speakers, addressing the audience on what could be learnt from recent fires in NSW, including in the Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee Shire.
"The picture of bushfire planning for what to do, there's a mixed picture. Two-thirds of people we interviewed could describe their plan but that means one-third didn't have a plan and of those, quite a number said they hadn't thought about it," he said.
Dr McLennan said an ideal bushfire plan included a safe way to leave a property and a kit containing important documents such as insurance papers, water, medicine and a change of clothes.