A major research program has begun in the Shoalhaven in the aftermath of the January bushfires.
Representatives from the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre will be doorknocking in the area for four days, starting today, as part of efforts to better understand how residents responded to the threat of bushfire.
The Dean's Gap blaze started on January 7 and spread under catastrophic conditions.
It burnt for more than two weeks, damaging more than 9300 hectares of mostly national parkland.
Research has been commissioned by the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS).
NSW RFS community engagement manager Tanyia Tuckey encouraged Shoalhaven residents to tell their stories to researchers.
"We're looking at the warnings that were issued around the time of the Dean's Gap fire and we're looking to learn about people's levels of preparedness and their understanding of the bushfire risks in the area they live in," she said.
Of particular interest to researchers is whether residents acted on warnings and fire danger advice, or took a "wait and see approach".
"If it comes out that people didn't understand their level of bushfire risk - so they hadn't made any plans or preparation - it lets us know we've got to put more effort into working with communities so they understand their bushfire risk."
The size of the Dean's Gap event, and the unusual demographic - with a large number of tourists - has made it an event worthy of inclusion in a national body of research that began with the Victorian bushfires of 2009.
The RFS is eager to include a wide variety of representations and has engaged similar research projects in Coonabarabran and Yass.
An online survey is also being carried out to capture the experiences of visitors who have since left the Shoalhaven.
Affected residents or visitors can register their interest in taking part in the research by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0404 463 612.
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