I clearly remember following lines of tankers into the Blue Mountains and parts of Sydney where the bush meets the city. RFS crews started to mark driveways with spray paint, deciding ahead of time the houses that might be saved and those that would need to be left to burn should the fire hit.
The difference between those houses was the owners’ level of preparation.
As the fire season approaches each year, the fire services across Australia prepare. They conduct hazard reduction burns, step up the training of their volunteers and ensure all their equipment is well maintained and ready.
At the same time, they step up the public messaging in an effort to get people to prepare for the coming season. There’s only so much they can do to save lives and property without people cooperating and preparing ahead of time.
My work in disaster recovery works on a seasonal cycle, known as the Disaster Management Cycle moving through response to events, assisting recovery, prevention and preparedness.
This logical sequence ensures that preparation is complete or well underway when the disaster season hits.
This year the fire season has come early.
Last winter was the country’s hottest on record with a mean temperature of 2 degrees above average and record highs in numerous locations. Combined with extremely dry conditions (the ninth driest winter on record), there are real concerns for the fire season this spring and summer.
This coming weekend looks particularly bad for Queensland and New South Wales, with temperatures of over 40 degrees forecast for western areas of these states. This means less time than ever before to prepare.
I urge you to be prepared without delay.
There are a number of very useful websites to assist you in this, and even 30 well-spent minutes of preparation could save your property and lives of those closest to you.
- NSW: NSW Rural Fire Service Bush Fire Survival Plan has four simple steps to prepare.
- Victoria: Victoria’s Country Fire Authority (CFA) Plan & Prepare helps you to understand your fire risk and what to do before and during a fire.
- Queensland: GetReady Queensland provides further tools for preparation.
- Tasmania: Tasmania Fire Service Bushfire Safety
- Northern Territory: SecureNT Bushfire Survival Plans
- South Australia: South Australia Country Fire Service: Prepare. Act. Survive.
- Western Australia: EmergencyWA Prepare For Bushfires
Rev Dr Stephen Robinson is the Assembly’s National Disaster Recovery Officer.