Victorians Criticise State’s New FireReady App

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 3, 2014 10:33 AM EST

Residents of the Australian state of Victoria are not impressed with the state's new FireReady app supposed to alert smartphone owners of perilous bushfires that are razing near their properties.

Launched in mid-December by the Victorian Department of Justice to replace the older version that crashed during the most recent bushfire season, the newer version is under heavy criticism from users because of its failure to deliver the promise to withstand the high levels of demand during peak fire periods and address performance issues in January 2013.


A firefighter battles a Christmas night brush fire in Simi Valley, California early December 26, 2013. Strong winds helped the brush fire burn along Santa Susana Pass Rd, just west of Rocky Peak, south of the 118 freeway. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to local media. REUTERS/Gene Blevins

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YouTube/VictoriaGovDOJTV

As a result, 104 of 163 reviewers of the app in Google Play and iTunes gave it the lowest possible score.

Due to the minimum radius function and error messages that appear on screens of iPhone users, the app got only two-star rating. One user reported getting the message "registration failed," while another complained of difficulty in finding current and relevant information. An HTC One phone owner said he only got a blank screen.

Another HTC One user asked the state government to fix the bugs since they heavily rely on it, but "Fire siren has just gone off and the trucks have just gone out (on) the road and I have no idea where the fire is," wrote Clayton.

However, Victorian government spokesman Mark Lee insisted that there is an improvement in the FireReady app which was updated for the current 2013-14 bushfire season. He said the complaints stem from residents still using the old app and urged them to upgrade to the new version.

Fire Commissioner Craig Lapsley also encouraged Victorians to have other sources of information during a bushfire emergency, not just to depend on the app but to also listen to the radio, visit the Web site or call its bushfire information line.

For users who got a "registration failed" message, Mr Lapsley said they must ensure that their phone's notifications are turned on for the app, which has been downloaded over 53,000 times.

Users who have already upgraded to the new version but still experience issues with the FireReady app are encouraged to email their feedback to firereadyapp@emergency.vic.gov.au.

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(Photo: / )
A firefighter battles a Christmas night brush fire in Simi Valley, California early December 26, 2013. Strong winds helped the brush fire burn along Santa Susana Pass Rd, just west of Rocky Peak, south of the 118 freeway. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to local media. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
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