Step 2A: Describe Risk Attributes & Vulnerability

At this point it will be important to describe the various attributes associated with the risks that have been identified. There are various tools and methods that can be utilized in this process. Table 1 is one component of series of tools that can be used for prioritizing and “scoring” risk. Use this to describe the likelihood of specific risks occurring.

Qualitative Measures of Risk Likelihood
Level Description Characteristics
A Almost Certain
  • Event is expected to occur
  • High level of recorded incidents and/or very strong anecdotal evidence
  • Strong likelihood event will re-occur
  • Strong opportunity, reason, or means to occur.
B Likely
  • Event will probably occur
  • Regular recorded incidents and strong anecdotal evidence.
  • Considerable opportunity, reason, or means to occur.
C Possible
  • Event should occur at some time
  • Few infrequent, random recorded incidents or little anecdotal evidence.
  • Very few incidents in associated organizations or comparable facilities.
  • Some opportunity, reason, or means to occur.
D Unlikely
  • Event could occur at some time
  • No recorded incidents or any anecdotal evidence.
  • No recent incidents in associated organizations or facilities.
  • Little opportunity, reason, or means to occur.
E Rare
  • Event may occur only in exceptional circumstances.

Table 1 Source: City of Manningham (Victoria, Australia) Community Emergency Risk Management Plan (2009)

Vulnerability is the susceptibility to suffer loss or harm from some type of incident or event. This may vary based on assorted factors, such as preparedness and the capabilities of the fire department and other emergency services providers. A community’s ability to resist the impacts and effects of various hazards must be determined. Table 2 is used as a qualitative measure to describe the consequences or impact of a particular risk or event.

Qualitative Measures of Risk Consequence of Impact
Level Description Characteristics
1 Insignificant
  • No injuries or fatalities. Small number or no people displaced, and only for short duration. Little or no personal support required (support not financial or material).
  • Inconsequential or no damage. Little or no disruption to community.
  • No measurable impact on environment.
  • Little or no financial loss.
2 Minor
  • Small number of injuries, but no fatalities. Minor medical treatment required. Some displacement of people (less than 24 hours). Some personal support required.
  • Some damage. Some disruption (less than 24 hours).
  • Small impact on environment with no lasting effects.
  • Some financial loss.
3 Moderate
  • Medical treatment required, but no fatalities. Some hospitalization. Localized displacement of people who return within 24 hours. Personal support satisfied through local arrangements.
  • Localized damage, which is rectified by routine arrangements. Normal community functioning with some inconvenience.
  • Some impact on the environment with no long‐term effects, or small impact on environment with long term effect.
  • Significant financial loss.
4 Major
  • Extensive injuries, significant hospitalization, large number displaced (more than 24 hours duration). Fatalities. External resources required for personal support.
  • Significant damage that requires external resources. Community only partially functioning, some services unavailable.
  • Some impact on environment with long term effects.
  • Significant financial loss—some financial assistance required.
5 Catastrophic
  • Large number of severe injuries requiring hospitalization. Significant fatalities. General displacement for extended duration. Extensive personal support.
  • Extensive damage. Community unable to function without significant support.
  • Significant impact on environment and/or permanent damage.
  • Huge financial loss—unable to function without significant support.

Table 2 Source: City of Manningham (Victoria, Australia) Community Emergency Risk Management Plan (2009)

Using the results from the previous two tools (Tables 1 and 2), a level of risk can be assigned using the
matrix in Table 3.

Qualitative Risk Analysis Matrix: Level of Risk
Likelihood Insignificant (1) Minor (2) Moderate (3) Major (4) Catastrophic (5)
A (Almost Certain) HR HR ER ER ER
B (Likely) MR HR HR ER ER
C (Possible) LR MR HR ER ER
D (Unlikely) LR LR MR HR ER
Categories of Risk
Level Description
Extreme Risk (ER) Detailed research and management planning required at senior levels. Action must be taken to reduce consequences or likelihood.
High Risk (HR) Chief officer or senior management attention required, further research might be required. Some action must be taken.
Moderate Risk (MR) Management responsibility must be specified, specific monitoring or response procedures required.
Low Risk (LR) Manage by routine procedures

Table 3 Source: City of Manningham (Victoria, Australia) CERM Plan (2009)

By combining these three tools and assigning a score to each of your risks, you can begin to prioritize those that will need the most attention for developing strategies and tactics for mitigation. This is a good point at which to also include critical community partners and stakeholders.