CFA app shows wrong fire ratings

The FireReady App on iPad.
The FireReady App on iPad.

Victoria's Country Fire Authority 'Fire-Ready' app is showing incorrect fire danger ratings on mobile phones as people begin to prepare for scorching temperatures, with a total fire ban in place across Victoria.

A number of people have complained on CFA's Facebook page that the group's only official app – which displays real-time updates on bushfire warnings, advice and incidents, including planned burns – displays the phrase "no rating" on a map of Victoria.

The Wimmera, south-west and central regions - which includes Melbourne and Geelong - expect extreme conditions - only one level below code red.

"If people are having trouble the first advice is to delete and re-install it and that seems to be fixing the issue for most people but if it doesn't (they should email and one of the developers will get in touch with them directly to help them sort it out," a CFA spokeswoman said.

Most people commented that re-loading, or deleting and re-installing the app fixed any glitches, but some said that their app continued to malfunction even after re-installing it.

One user commented that "numerous alerts" did not correspond with locations on the map on her CFA app.

"I don't want a fire out here in the bush to be located 5 kms away when it is across the road. These errors will end in disaster if the web designers don't get their act together," she wrote.

This follows reports of errors in the app last month. An updated version of the app was made available on the Apple iTunes store website on 23 December, which fixed an error message "error retrieving information from the server" - that users reported receiving when setting up their Fire Watch Zones.

But since then, several users also reported that while they were loading the app, it switched back to the home screen.

On Christmas day, CFA released a statement which similarly advised users to delete and re-install the app to fix the problem.

A CFA spokeswoman said the app was not working on the iPhone 4 and some iPads.

At least three people have also posted complaints on the CFA Facebook page about errors on the app appearing on their Samsung Galaxy phones.

The spokeswoman said the CFA estimated that about 100 out of the more than 100,000 users of the app were experiencing problems.

‘‘Developers are still working on it. It has been an issue ever since an update of the app came out,’’ she said.

She advised people not to rely on one source of information for fire warnings.

‘‘We do want people to use other forms like listening to ABC Radio, they’re our emergency broadcaster so they give all the warnings out, going to the CFA website, calling the Victorian Bushfire information line and Facebook and Twitter.’’

CFA also acknowledged complaints that its website was slow to load on its Facebook page.

‘‘Thanks for the feedback, we are aware the website is running slow and are working to fix it now. Stay tuned to local radio.’’

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