Nuff Nuff

Friday, December 31, 2010

Fire Warning Signs - Replaced and Looking Good

As per this post Sept '09 Signage and this post Nov '09 Signage the signage has NOW BEEN RECTIFIED!

This is one step in the right direction, the final sign was completed in the 23rd December 2010.

I’m happy now that this has been completed. It’s one more step in the right direction for residents, tourists and people travelling through the affected areas.

This is now what the signs should all look like (They do in my neck of the woods)

What about yours?

Please let me know if you have a location, NOT YET taken care of.

I was informed by the CFA that sign replacement was to be completed by September 2010, but remember it’s NOT THE CFA’S responsibility, so they are NOT to blame if the sign switch has not been done.

Refer your local council AND post locations here, Council, suburb/town and street name/number.

Let’s bring this to the forefront of fire awareness.

Stay safe, stay alert,stay prepared and stay safe

Take care out there

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The memory of Bushfire

It lives with you forever.

This morning the hot northerly wind was blowing, the only difference to two years ago, was the grass was green and the temperature wasn’t 35’c at 8am in the morning.

The words of my father came back to me “Are you ready?” – he called me at 8.15am the 7th February 2009, he knew, I knew, the CFA knew. It was going to be bad.

Just nobody knew how bad.

I never want anyone to go through what others did on that day – and that is why I keep pushing people, be prepared, be alert, don’t turn your back on the outside world.

Sure an air conditioner is great to keep you cool and closed blinds help with that.

Many people weren’t aware there was problem until the power went out, by then it was too late.

Too late to run, too late to prepare, too late to do anything other than pray.

I want people to realize that the CFA website, can’t keep up with the fires, with fast fires like those of Black Saturday. I remember watching the fire start at 11-11.15am in Kilmore and seeing the smoke. The CFA website didn’t list any problems, until 11.30am from memory, by then it was too late.

I can’t stress enough, be prepared, don’t pretend it won’t/can’t happen to you, 173 people died and many only came through by their shirt tails.

Clear your property now, clear your gutters, clear under the house. Remove overhanging branches.

Please don’t think it won’t happen, don’t let your family, friends and parents find out the hard way.

Take care out there – it may have rained, but that has only increased the amount of undergrowth, and thus the overall fire risk. Don’t become a statistic.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Marysville - Almost 2 years on after the Bushfires of Black Saturday

These are some photos I took last week.

90%, maybe 95% of the trees are dead. They will stand as a reminder of what has happened for generations. Falling as those that remember fall.

Do not let the memory of these trees be in vain. Prepare yourself, your family, your house, your animals.

Remember these trees and remember never to forget that preparation is the key to survival in a bushfire.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fire Warning Signs - still no change from September 2010

The Good - Kinglake Fire Warning Sign:-

The Bad - Whittlesea Fire Warning Sign:-

The Ugly - Kalkallo Fire Danger Warning Sign:-

Look, call me a looney, call me a fool, call me an idiot for even caring. Not 25km from these signs - 20 people died. Not 90km from these signs nearly 150 people died.

We as residents of the state of Victoria, DESERVE the RIGHT to know what danger the day may bring.

We pay rates, we elect the people into Local Council, into State Goverment, we have a right to be fully informed.

The CFA are NOT responsible for these signs, they are ONLY responsible for ensuring that the arrow points in the right direction - the problem is THERE IS NO ARROW, THERE IS NO WARNING INDICATOR.

I've previously written about this:-
September 2010 - Fire Danger Warning Signs - Are we in Danger?
August 2010 - CFA Road Signage

The last I heard in late September, early October was that new signs were being designed, yet the fire danger period is almost upon us and nothing is being seen to be done.

The CFA are hamstrung, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't say anything. Damned by the Government/Councils for speaking up and making them look bad and damned by the general public for not warning them

Someone needs to pull their finger out and soon - soon enough so that people entering high risk fire areas on days considered high risk, can actually see the risk.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Trees and Power lines

They don’t mix. Nearly everyone knows that, and if they don’t, they have been living under a rock for 20 or more years.

I had a discussion with someone recently about the maiming of trees in suburbia. Unfortunately trees don’t know the difference between the suburbs and bush. Only the people who plant the trees do.

Consequently there are blanket rules in place for suburb and country, considering the results are pretty much the same in regards to power outages and the risk of fires. It’s a pretty good rule. Sure trees can look unsightly as they sprout new growth. But the alternative is only bushes in the suburbs and that would be far worse. Trees provide shade, even if they have been tailored to accommodate power lines. So the trees must stay.

People seem to think that suburb and country should have different rules. It’s not possible. Trees provide shade, they help reduce the temperature in the inner-city when mid-summer is upon us. Would you rather only bushes to provide that shade?

This photo from New Zealand shows what happens to a tree when it comes in contact with power lines. I suppose everyone was lucky that no real problems occurred - notice-board

People also say adjust the planting under power lines, but that will reduce shade in the suburbs, so not a real option. Here are some recommendations from Powercor as to what could be planted under lines if you live in Victoria. PowerCor - Planting Trees Near Powerlines

The Premiers office, also points out that not only are bushfires are danger, but many power outages are caused by trees near lines and causing interference. Premiers Office

In NSW you could be held accountable IF trees near lines cause problems. Refer the Energy Australia Brochure. Energy Australia - Bushfire Safety

Without trees in the suburbs, the suburbs would be hotter, without these trees being trimmed there could be the risk of fire and or blackouts.

So it’s a lose lose. Better to have a tree that has been trimmed harshly than no tree at all.

I know my preference.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mock Fire Evacuations – My Thoughts

Mock Fire evacuations, (proposed) although in full support, is a vote-buying exercise. Watoday - Mock Bushfire Evacuations planned
SMH - Mock Bushfire Evacuations

I’ve already figured out how to not to participate. But I’ll leave my thoughts until last.

Humans are strange creatures, humans have the ability to think an event won’t happen to them, they think that drink driving doesn’t matter, they won’t get pulled over, they won’t kill anyone. Humans think that risk-taking behaviour is okay for them because they don’t take risks. Don’t worry about the loaded shotgun in the back seat, done it for years, nothing will happen.

Humans are creatures of denial, until it is too late and then they look for someone to blame. It couldn’t possibly be their fault, they weren’t told of the risks, as they are carted off to hospital minus a couple of fingers because they rode a motorcycle without gloves.

Same goes for bushfires, it can’t happen to me, I won’t be home, I’ll mow the lawns that morning, Black Saturday we had three days warning, I’ll just wait until we are given that warning before taking any preventative measures. I knew the fire was coming, so I got a cover note from the insurance company when I heard about the fire (saved heaps of money, cause I haven’t paid insurance for the past 10 years)

I’m sure you are nodding your head in agreement with at least one the above the comments.

Bushfires aren’t something to be toyed with, they aren’t something to be taken lightly, aren’t something that you can climb on the roof and avoid as the flames lick at your front door. Bushfires are an untamed beast, a beast that has been used by the native aborigines to regenerate the forest for generations. Bushfires are a beast that will kill given the right circumstances.

You can’t have a mock evacuation, people will then use the mock example when something does fail, when something goes wrong and will blame the organisers, will blame the government, will blame whoever is nearest at the time.

Mock Fire evacuations make people think that fire is predictable, make people think it’s okay to leave at the last minute, that it’s okay to just go to the nearest safest place.

Mock Fire Evacuations will only give people a false sense of security and this is my greatest fear, people think that they didn’t get enough warning on Black Saturday. The false sense of security instilled by a mock fire evacuation will only create more blame, if something does happen in the future.

The only way to prepare for a fire, as per previous posts is:- slash grass, clear gutters, create a firebreak around your house, make sure wood and junk is not stacked up against or under your house and most importantly prepare a bushfire action plan AND STICK TO IT.

A fire plan could mean evacuation, could mean staying and fighting, could mean getting the children out somewhere safe, long before the fire approaches your front door. A fire plan is tailored to each family, each place of residence – no two fire plans should be the same, other than the preparation.

Fire is not a beast to be fought unless you are fully prepared, both mentally and physically, those that have previously had health problems, you probably need to re-consider staying, although in saying that, a gentleman of 94, managed to save his house without assistance and without town water. So anything is possible, just don’t become a statistic please.

My hat goes off the Liberal State Government for thinking of the idea, but it will only instill false hope, hope that needs to be dashed and replaced with real preparation.

By the way – my method of avoiding such an evacuation? – Just go out for the day.

My preparation has started, I’ve already done round one of the slashing,** next round is cup weekend and then the week before Christmas and then once a month until such time are the risk of fire is over for another season. My children know what to do if they see a fire coming. Black Saturday saw me organise/bully those on the street who couldn’t stay without risk of losing their life, leave the street and head for the suburbs. I grew up in Marysville, I now live an area that is predominantly grassland, but that doesn’t exclude me from the risk of fire and I know that better than anyone.

Thank-you to all the CFA volunteers, thank-you to all volunteers nation-wide, world-wide, the world is a better place because of you. I know it’s a thankless task, but people I know owe their lives to you (not just under the threat of fire) and for that I say thank-you

Please take the time to read my blog, which is both from a personal perspective and possibly helpful to those people who may be affected by bushfires, Remember city or country, bushfires could affect you and your family.

**slashing is not a 2 hour operation, it takes 2 people 4-8 hours to complete, a total of 8-16 hours.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bushfire Season has arrived – Are You prepared?

Doesn’t matter where you live, be it Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland or New South Wales, the threat of fire is not far away.

Record rains across all states have seen the undergrowth thrive, once the hot weather arrives, that same undergrowth will dry off and pose a major fire risk.

The thought of bushfires is never been far away from the minds of rural folk at the height of summer, but city folk must also pay attention. 2009 saw the suburbs of Melbourne threatened, outskirts of Bendigo burned. 2010 saw the outskirts of Adelaide threatened and 4000 hectares burnt in Tasmania.

So, doesn’t matter city or country – you MUST prepare for the upcoming season, record rains have seen record growth and with the growth comes the likelihood of record bushfires and fatalities.

Don’t become a statistic, prepare for the summer ahead, prepare your land, prepare your house, prepare your family, prepare yourself.

Some things you can do to prepare are slash grass, clear gutters, create a firebreak around your house, make sure wood and junk is not stacked up against or under your house and most importantly prepare a bushfire action plan AND STICK TO IT.

Some previous posts that you should also read:-

Children in the care of others during Code Red Days
Are you prepared to stay and defend?
Loss of power in residential properties
Are you prepared for bushfire?
Be prepared or prepare to die
Fire season and the procrastinator
The threat of bushfire and your family

Clean up before fire cleans up for you!

Remember only you can save you – no-one else knows where the fire is headed, not even the experts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fire Danger Warning Signs - Are We in Danger?

1st September 2010

30km apart, three totally different signs, three totally different attitudes, three totally different types of townships, two townships both impacted by the Black Saturday Fires.

And yet the warning signs, that are meant to form one of the points of contact to alert the residents in the area and the travelling public to the danger of fire in the area belong to three different councils and have three completely different looks.

I have previously covered this topic here CFA Road Signage - August 2010 and here Victorian Public Lives Not At Risk - January 2010

The state of Victoria currently has 3 types of signs:-
The least informative which looks like this:- Kalkallo - Fire Signage

A little more informative, but not much better – Whittlesea – Fire Signage
(This sign faces south and would explain why the sign has not deteriorated)

And the third which wins ALL the prizes - Kinglake Fire Signage
(This sign is metal and speaks for itself) Also note that this sign is new, within the last 15-30 days.

Why can’t the people and visitors to Victoria have the same information available to them, across the state, in the same easy-to-read format?

Hasn’t the state Government learnt ANYTHING since the fires of Black Saturday?

**photos taken between the 20th and 22nd August 2010**

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Black Saturday Transcript - Marysville February 2009

This conversation took place on the 11th February 2009, a casual conversation between friends, taped inadvertently. I am sharing this because I believe that people need to hear what those who fought and survived the Black Saturday Fires in Victoria endured immediately following the devastation of the fires and the trauma and grief they were faced with.

I'm sorry about the length - but I believe that this MUST remain in one piece, in memory of everything that has been lost.

Please take the time to read in full - I know it's long, but the story must be shared. (All names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved)

45 minutes of doing stuff – no speech – some sobbing is heard
Gate is heard to be opened.
Sound of water running.
Sound of a 4x4 approaching the property.
Albert - “I saw you coming” “How are you?” “How’s your stock?” “I know your house is okay” “But how’s your stock?”
Bert - “How you going Albert?” “It was a pretty wild sort of time wasn’t it?”
Albert - Inaudible
Bert - “No problems, we survived pretty well, I was well prepared. I….. I was ready from the week before it got here………
Albert - Yeah
Bert - ………I got the dozers out and cleared bare my place.”
Albert - “How did you get in to here?”
Bert - “The police aren’t there today” Up til now, nobody can get in.
Albert - “That’s ridiculous”
Bert - “Bloody hard” “Colleen went to Healesville 3 days ago, and can’t get back. But The Spurs on fire now.
Albert - Yeah
Bert - Yeah
Albert - “I went to……we went out yesterday, go out and come back, have you got a bit of paper and I know you won’t let me, it’s a bloody trick to get us out. I had to read the bloody riot act to……..
Bert - to get back in again
Albert - ………get back in again.
Bert - Well Colleen got a pass from the cops…….
Albert - Yeah
Bert - …. near our place, took all the details and wrote it down, she gave to the other cops on the way out and couldn’t come back in.”
Albert - Well, now this stuff, ……… this cop where Debra came through, you had any dealings with him?
Bert - he’s a bastard.
Albert - He promised to get it this through to us 2 days ago and never……….
Bert - and never seen nor heard of it. I’ve had runs in with him.
Albert - Everybody has.
Albert - Calling it a crime scene, so I went round a shot a dozen people as the fire came through. That’s what they’re saying.
Bert - Yeah
Bert - We are suffering, more than the poor buggers that got burnt out.
Albert - Yeah but……. Yeah but……..If you listen……….If you listen to the wireless, all you can hear is Kinglake, Kinglake.
Bert - Yeah well, They’re just starting to talk about Marysville now.
Albert - and the …..other thing is that.. the… the….. you know…… all…….. the interesting…….the interesting thing though I reckon, is that… all those who….. stayed, basically saved their house. Are you with me? ……. No, Sorry I’m putting that they wrong way.
Bert - Yeah, I don’t think they did, some people that stayed are gone………. They’re gone, they’re dead.
Albert - Yes
Albert - Yes, they had…………
Bert - ……… no preparation.
Albert - ………no preparation…………and……………and………..
Bert - Yes
Albert - Yes
The sound of unpacking from the back of vehicle is heard
Ethel - The kids have really thought of everything.
Bert - Pardon?
Ethel - The kids have really thought…….
Bert - They tossed everything in to make sure
Albert - now………I’ll put the……….. you like a cuppa?
Bert - Yeah……. I’ll be in that thank-you
Albert - first up I’ll sort that out……
Albert - So you’ve been baching on your own?
Bert - Yeah for the last 3 days. Yeah
Albert - How are you off for food? At least……………. Big pantry
Albert - Yeah well, you know after the fire ……. The other problem, why the town ran out of water?
Bert - well there were that many burst water mains for starters
Albert - no, it wasn’t burst water mains, sorry
Bert - I didn’t know you’d run out of water
Albert - there was only one burst water main and that was broken actually
Bert- Up near The Crossways.
Albert - Yeah. I’ll come and show you what the problem was. After the fire went through, nobody…….I went round…………..I went round and turned some of them off the next day. The bloody fire services were still running at Maidmary and Maryshouse.
Bert - Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Albert - Oh Right…………..Thank-you…………….
Albert - Yeah, ……..the modern…. stop cocks, they…….with a bit of heat on them, they…….they just blew out. Now…………. D……….I went around and I did about 30. Can you imagine 30 of those?
Bert - Yeah…………. yeah
Albert - And there were a lot more than that.
Bert - Yeah
Bert - I was expecting a bad one, but never dreamed of anything like this. You even got a wireless…….
Albert - Yeah…………
Bert - There are a set of batteries there somewhere.
Albert - oh yeah….. I don’t know how she managed…………..
Bert - You want a hand to take it. It’s not that heavy. It’s quite light actually.
Albert - I’ll take it up
Albert - I don’t know…………It’s probably easier for you to carry one, than the two………..but………..
The sound of stuff being picked up and moved. Gate crashing open. Sounds of people walking.
Albert - The only water I used here……. That’s all we used.
Bert - Yeah
Albert - That’s all I used. I saw……. but……
Bert - yeah
Albert - I thought we were going to lose the window…….that was where the wood heap was. Just beyond that wall. A HUGE wood heap. (on the neighbours property, on the fenceline)
Bert - what…….Over there?............ Jeez
Albert - I think it was the double glazing that saved us.
Bert - Yeah…….. we’ve got double glazing, but there was no….nothing near our house. The lawns were all watered,
Albert - Yeah………..but the double-glazing
Bert - Yeah, yeah….a lot……….A lot of houses their windows just melted.
Albert - Yeah
Bert - and that’s……..
Albert - Yup
Sounds of stuff being carried water/fuel?
Albert - E……?
Ethel - Yes?
Albert - I’ll start the jenny up.
Albert - Bert reckons the road’s open now.
Bert - I don’t know if it’s officially open
Albert - Yeah
Bert - Fred just came out and said that……..
Albert - how’s his house?
Bert - He survived, he has a good sprinkler system ….off a dam, so he’s pretty……
Albert - Right
Bert - ……… right I think
Sound of generator starting
Albert - I’m glad I …………when I bought that …………….
Bert - Yeah
Albert - I’ll show you what …….. I agree with you about……….
Albert - That burnt right up to the fence there. Stopped there, those shrubs down here………
Albert - I’ve been giving them a dose of water…….
Albert - ……..Just around there, went out to there, just that little bit in a straight line
Bert - It didn’t take much water to stop …….to stop the grass burning with most of the rubbish was gone.
Albert – Yeah
Bert - A bucket of water puts a lot of fire out.
Albert - A sprinkler system goes a lot better……..won’t say a lot better………but….goes a lot further
Bert - Graham & Heidi went to …… went to ummmm…… china
Bert - You need to get it somehow

Bert - Graham and Heidi went last Wednesday to China and uh……….
Albert - Yup
Sound of generator as they approach it again
Albert - look at the end of the ………..
Bert - No, I know that
Albert - to give you some idea, about a fortnight ago, I was going to buy some plastic buckets, but they were too dear, so I bought the stainless steel one……..galvanised one.
Albert - You don’t know what ………
Bert - You didn’t know how much you had and how much you didn’t have
Albert - Laughter
Bert - I went crook at Colleen because ……I was up at 4 o’clock. Ummm…….I couldn’t sleep and I wanted to get out and see if I could help and I see these lights come down Mt Gordon, there’s a HUGE tree across the road in front of our place and I knew they couldn’t get through. But I thought if someone coming at that hour of the morning…..
Ethel - they must need……
Bert - ……..they must need a doctor or something, I wasn’t even properly dressed at 4 o’clock in the morning. so I get in my kit…….. I’ll get the tractor in a minute, just hang on. She said “Don’t bloody worry about that” “you know me”
Ethel - Laughter
Bert - In the dark I didn’t know who it was.
Ethel - Couldn’t see who it was
Bert - anyway, we managed to get past the sign and tree. I said to her you are bloody mad.
Ethel - that’s what I………I mean her brother
Albert - What do you want? Tea of coffee
Bert - Tea, please. A weak tea, please
Albert - You’re a dairy farmer, you’ll have it black
Bert - No,
Albert - Most dairy farmers…………
Bert - yeah, I know that, yeah I know that
Ethel - Then we were worried she wouldn’t get back again, you know……….
Albert - so I said………
Albert - we turned a few of those…………we didn’t have any water
Bert - Yeah
Albert - we went round and turned Maryshouse fire service off and Maidmary’s fire service off and drove a few of those stakes in, we got water to here
Bert - There’s water pouring out at the Catholic Church, that’s running flat out
Ethel - Oh is there? ……. Well we’d better go and……….
Albert - well they were running………as you came in, they’re running?
Bert - Yeah, just now
Ethel - We’d better go round and turn it off too
Bert - I thought to myself, I’ll see if I can nip it up …….. you know……….. on the way back.
Ethel - Yeah, that’s right
Bert - That’s right
You can hear a radio running in the background
Bert - I was talking to Colleen about 2 seconds last night
Ethel - Yeah, that’s right
Albert - We got through …………. Oh and we couldn’t get rid of Irwin off the phone and then………. Next call we went to make……. Nothing. No service. ……..
Bert - yeah, exactly
Albert - We’ve got our shower Ethel. You might like to stand out where you’ve got to stand but………
Ethel - They’ll be nobody around to see you love.
Bert - we, ahhhhh….we’ve got gravity feed water from our workshop and tanks up there and gravity feeds the house. I’m right for water and I’m right for hot water because I’m using heater……… we’ve got the ahhhh…….
Bert - …….. in the lounge
Ethel - Oh, okay
Albert - you’ve got……………
Bert - Hydronic water
Albert - You haven’t got any chemical in it?
Bert - No, nope. It’s separate anyway
Albert - we put in a very big hot water service. We’ve got a big radio here. 18yo kid put a little special socket into the TV
Bert - yeah yeah, I see that the telcom boys are trying to get the power going at the moment by the looks of it.
Bert - Looks like a portable generator and……..
Ethel - we’ve had people, finally got hold of at the end of the hill and they burst into tears. Jill’s in a terrible state when we rang her, Kennedy wasn’t much better. And Larry wasn’t much better. They’ve rung the Red Cross and the Red Cross have no record of whether they are alive or dead.
Bert - Yeah yeah
Albert - Then I heard on the wireless,………. We……people……Marysville people are in Alexandra, please re-register, there’s been a glitch in their records. We had………Maurice Townsend came around, I don’t know if he was the SES or DS&E. Neville Nelson came around.
Bert - Yeah
Albert - and the police came around
Bert - all the paperwork…….. yeah………. They’ve been out to check us out and……
Albert - but then those people ring up and no record of us……..
Ethel –whether we are alive or dead
Albert - now, would you want something to eat Bert?
Bert - I’m not physically worried……… I am…..I can…..
Albert - It will be a sandwich
Ethel - Yeah, it’ll be a sandwich
Bert - that’ll be fine
Bert - I’ve got to get…….
Albert - We had ……the other night, we had Ian and……what’s his name, not O but Peter
Ethel - Oh yeah………….Ian………….. Oh yeah. Bert wouldn’t know him I don’t think
Albert - He built on Thomas’s old vacant land
Bert - Oh yeah………. When Rachael and Steven left…. They were about the last people I knew in the town
Bert - We don’t go to the pool anymore you just lose …….
Albert - well, we…….. Debra ……. had a contact somehow with the……woman, and she bought Violets’ old house. You know the two storey brick one, you can………They’re staying. They’re names Warren or something. She said, go down and see them, I went down, never seen her, I said and how long have you been here? Oh 4 years.
Bert - oh yeah (laughter)
Ethel - Actually, her husband is out of town……
Albert - ….but they wouldn’t let him back in
Ethel - let him in. She’s here, they wouldn’t let him back in. so……..
Bert - Colleen went down to………..
Bert - She got a pass from the police up here and thought she could get back.
Ethel - we tried to stock up yesterday…….
Bert - Yeah
Ethel - but, they told us we could, you know……go over to Alex and we could……..
Bert - ………you can’t come back in, if you’ve go out
Albert - ……… they’ll let you out, but won’t let you back in
Ethel - I said to Albert, I’ve got two dogs, the village dog………
Albert - Do you want a dog?
Ethel - It drives………….It barks, it drives you mad.
Albert - Hear that?
Bert - Yeah yeah
Ethel - All day, all night, absolutely drives you nuts.
Bert - Yeah Yeah, I hate a yappy dog
Ethel - Last 2 nights has been up in the shed. Can’t hear him
Bert - Yeah that’s what you have to do. I suppose…… I suppose the poor thing’s traumatised too, just like the rest of us
Ethel - Thinking about it, he probably sleeps on their bed
Bert - Yeah Yeah
Albert - Watched that………explode…….watched that that new weather board down there, that wall, painted, it……. Just ………burst into flames,
Bert - yeah yeah
Albert - This house over here, I must admit……….it’s clear all the way around it, that’s a plastic house, the weatherboards are plastic, the decking is plastic……
Bert - Yeah Yeah
Albert - The balustrade is plastic, the windows are plastic, and it’s perfect.
Bert - It’s unreal……It’s unreal……..isn’t it?
Albert - and yet up here ………..
Bert - The fire goes through and says I’ll have here and ……no don’t want you…..
Ethel - that’s right
Bert –……. I’ll have the next one. Ginger Meg’s house is still sitting up there.
Ethel - would you believe that little old rubbishy house …….
Bert - Yeah Yeah
Albert - The little old one in…….. next door to Albert Conner’s in Smith Street, you know?
Bert - Yeah Yeah
Ethel - Lovely little dump………ummmm
Albert - That little old one…….
Bert – Ginger’s house………..
Ethel - ………the old blue house……… yeah
Bert – Ginger's house …………Ummm……an old weatherboard, and it’s got… ummm…..artificial brick on the ……….
Albert - yeah yeah
Bert –……. On the outside. You’d think it would be……’d think it would go up.
Albert - Bitumen……….. artificial bricks had a bit of bitumen in them
Bert - Yeah yeah……….Stick ‘em on……..Yeah
Albert - but, no……. but they were made out of bit of bitumen, but some of them were…….
Bert - Yeah Yeah
Albert - But this Steph………..Which Carter is it? One of Stephanie Carter…..
Ethel - daughters
Albert - Brand new house, they were going to sign for it next week.
Bert - yeah Yeah
Albert - but……….
Ethel - but they hadn’t signed for it, that is the good news,
Albert - but……..
Ethel - They hadn’t signed for it – which is the good news
Albert - well, is it the goods news or the bad news? If it’s good news, they’d have insured it, they’d be right. Now……..If the builder had built it properly, does he have the financial resources to build it ……….to build it again?
Bert - yeah
Albert - and if he hasn’t, they’re left with……. With……..
Ethel - rubbish
Albert - rubbish to clear up
Bert - yeah
Albert - which they……….
Bert - they’ll have to think about that with the legal side
Albert - The Benny guy……
Bert - I don’t know…..Um – he just sold his house, they’ve signed up for it. Ummmmmm…..The deal went through…… goes through on the 4th or something. So he’s got to either replace the house or hopefully because they might….. you know……
Albert - No No……
Bert - …….. back off on the deal ……..
Albert - Yeah well…………
Bert - ……….. and can sue them if he doesn’t replace the house.
Albert - Well, the thing I was always told, that if you buy a house, insurance it straight away as soon as you pay the deposit…….
Bert - before you pay the …………..
Albert - I know one smart estate agent, who bought a house, the settlement was next day and he…… and he thought I’ll oh well the guys got insurance…..
Albert - …….. and it burnt down…….. The other guy hadn’t insured it, that’s a real…..
Bert - Yeah yeah
Albert - the other guy
Bert - that’s just as bad, Dairy farm, ummm, our insurance guy,……. Who…… was married to what’s her name……….ummm. One of the …… ummmm… I think
Bert - in the end, the put their kid……. their son to run it
Bert - …….Bought the property and would be back Monday to insure it
Albert - Yeah well I was…. My insurance guy…….. he sends me a fax, when we buy something
Bert - that’s what they do these days.
Albert - The date is the time on the back of the fax sheet.
Bert - Yeah Yeah
Albert - ......Out again
Ethel – Debra ………….
Albert - Rang Fran Bailey for us and jumped up and down, and the way she dealt with the water board, she said she rang on the Sunday and just tell him that……
Albert - Just tell him that……….
Albert - In 5 minutes he rang her. Yesterday morning they were across here and that’s what got……..
Albert - ……….back on. We turned off that many valves………
Bert - Right now…….
Albert - Are you right now?
Bert - Diesel running now…………….
Albert - What about……….
Bert - that’s why Colleen went to Healesville to get more……….
Bert - No, we’re right now. We’ve got the diesel generator running now.
Bert - Thanks Ethel
Albert - I haven’t got any diesel to give you
Bert - No we’ve got plenty of diesel now
Albert - The Crossways…….
Bert - Yeah. What? He’s dead?
Ethel - No he stayed. He hid under the bridge when it got really…….. then he dived out and started to put the spot fires out.
Albert - Some of those that got burnt……. (sobbing is heard)
Albert - 2 of them are dead, they’re dead (sobbing)

* Then the conversation moves onto those that lost their lives and all parties compare notes, tales, whose cars are still on the property, who is confirmed dead, who is still missing, who hasn’t been seen and for decency I have not continued with the transcription
The recording ends in a little under 2 minutes, it’s quite disjointed as the batteries start to fail.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Marysville V Kinglake, Bushfires and Rebuilding

I've tried to bite my tongue - but enough is enough - HOW DARE THE COUNCIL treat the township of Marysville with so little respect.

The same sign, two different towns, both affected in the same way - both suffering and this what you get.

Data from the 2006 Census reveals:-
To give you an idea of some figures:-
Kinglake (2006 Census) - 1482 population
Marysville (2006 Census) - 519 population

Kinglake:- During the week prior to the 2006 Census, 735 people aged 15 years and over who were usually resident in Kinglake (Suburb) were in the labour force. Of these, 58.5% were employed full-time, 29.5% were employed part-time, 4.2% were employed but away from work, 1.9% were employed but did not state their hours worked and 5.9% were unemployed. There were 291 usual residents aged 15 years and over not in the labour force.

Marysville - During the week prior to the 2006 Census, 269 people aged 15 years and over who were usually resident in Marysville (L) (Urban Centre Localities) were in the labour force. Of these, 58.4% were employed full-time, 31.6% were employed part-time, 1.9% were employed but away from work, 2.6% were employed but did not state their hours worked and 5.6% were unemployed. There were 149 usual residents aged 15 years and over not in the labour force.

The difference between Kinglake and Marysville - Kinglake is considered a suburb of Melbourne, Marysville is not.

A majority of Kinglake residents travel into the outer suburbs of Melbourne for employment

99% of Marysville residents worked within the township. Now there are only a handful of jobs left.

Marysville is dying, no jobs, people can't afford to stay. People can't afford to rebuild. Without jobs people move away.

Kinglake the same as Marysville, there was loss of life, there was loss of residences, but perhaps only 5-10% of jobs were lost in Kinglake.

Complete polar opposites. Yet Marysville gets completely ignored. same Council, same State Government, and the McEwen Electorate.

Council, State Government and Politicians should be ashamed that they so blatantly discriminate against a township struggling to survive.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mandatory Evacuations in the USA 'V' Australia

I am writing this whilst sitting in my lovely house on top of a hill, overlooking the suburbs of Melbourne. 10-20km north of me are tracks of land – burnt beyond belief. To the north of me 7 people died, to the east of me 164 people died. To the northeast of me the fire got to within 7km of my property, before the winds changed.

I’m trying to give to you a sense of where we stood in relation to the Black Saturday Fires and how close they came.

There have been many tales told of the USA where ‘Mandatory Evacuations” take place and I thought I would investigate a little further. Not everything you can hear is true nor understood fully by the speaker.

The word “Mandatory” means (in context) – (adjective) authoritatively ordered; obligatory; compulsory: It is mandatory that all residents leave the area.

Now mandatory evacuation doesn’t mean that in the USA. In the USA you have 3 levels of alert,
1. Be aware of your surrounding, you may be required to voluntary evacuation to pre-designated safe areas (similar to Australia).
2. Voluntary evacuation – evacuations centres are opened and the public may use them if they choose, or may re-locate to friends and family outside the immediate area of danger. People considered unable to care for themselves should be assisted by officials in the area. This could include children, if authorities deem them to be at risk.
3. Mandatory Evacuations – evacuations centres are opened, people are encouraged to leave the area and move to the evacuation centres, until the danger passes.

Now this is where it gets tricky. If you choose NOT TO leave, when the mandatory call is put out, you are ON YOUR OWN. Emergency services will not attend, food and fuel WILL NOT be available. Nobody will come and rescue you at the height of the danger. You are ALL ALONE.

Some things to consider IF a mandatory evacuation order IS ISSUED IN THE USA. From what I can understand you are effectively under marshal law and could be arrested if you step off private property. Explain Mandatory/Voluntary Evacuation

Now the key to ALL of this working is warnings and people being aware of their surroundings. No matter how diligent the officials are at warning people, some people will be missed. That is why it’s essential no matter which side of the world you live; you pay attention to the outside world.

In the USA, where there is more time than not, ample warning of an approaching hurricane or similar, I’m led to believe that along with radio and TV, loud hailers and face to face warnings are issued. Mandatory Evacuation

Bushfires because they are not something that can be predicted (i.e. arson or fallen powerlines) then the ability to issue timely warnings can be very limited. But in the instance of the Black Saturday Fires, for three days prior warnings were issued on Television, Radio and Print media. This was effectively Stage 1 of the ‘be aware of your surroundings’

On Saturday the 7th February 2009, the media switched to (Stage 2) requesting people leave their place of residence IF they lived in an area deemed to be a high risk fire area, or prepare to stay and defend. At that stage, NO fire had been reported.

Once the fire got started, there was no going back, the weather conditions on that day were probably the same if not worse than 1939 and the inevitable happened. Even those that had been through the 1939 fires, thought they were invincible and that turned out not to be the case.

Personally I stayed, with my husband, we prepared, as we had prepared every day for this time. Our house had been constructed with fire mesh, with a water supply not requiring any form of power. We had a water pump; we had tanks with CFA connections. We had accessed what could and could not be saved, building wise. Prepared the animals to be transported or left. The neighbours had all been warned and transport arranged for the elderly and infirm. Those with young children packed and left. The fire should have hit us about 3.30-3.45pm on Saturday the 7th February 2009. At 3.15pm the wind changed, and the fire turned flank and headed east. God help those in the hills. I called my parents and told them the fire was coming. They had 3hours to prepare. They did what they could, warned those they could. They survived. Just like many others, who had spent a life-time doing the small things, leading up to that dreadful day.

So you see – Australia DOES have similar steps in place for emergency evacuations, the difference is people here, in Australia seem to think that emergency services have enough personnel on the ground to save THEIR house, bugger everyone else’s.

I’m sorry – there are two words – PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Heed them, look at them and act on them.

CFA Roadside Signage

I have previously touched on this topic, what’s made me bring it up again is that I was reading the local newspaper and saw this article Star Group - Fired Up Over Signs Which says that the council are fully responsible for the funding for the CFA Fire Danger Indication Signs. I wasn’t aware of this, I’m sure you weren’t either.

The new format, corrugated plastic signs were placed over the old format steel (better) signs with funding from the State Government, the councils are being asked to replace the fading and failing plastic signs with a material more durable, but in the same format.

I agree with councils (which is rare for me) the old format is far superior to the new format as I have discussed previously here Victorian Public Lives Not at Risk
The reasoning behind replacing the signs in the first place as to make it ‘easier’ for the public to see the fire danger, which is a complete an utter lie. The new sign shows NO indicative points, only colours with a telephone number and a website. The old signs with the arrow and the colour markings were easier to see at high speed and also clearly indicated the fire danger in the area you were entering.

Another aim when replacing the signs is to ensure that the fire areas line up with total fire ban weather areas, which is also a good idea.

The Government need to realise that by supposedly simplifying things, they are actually muddying the waters and making it even harder.

The OLD CFA Danger sign was far superior to the new. It was easier to read when passing in a 100kph zone, and it clearly showed what the fire danger was. The new sign shows NOTHING. Other than pretty colours, a phone number and a website.

The State Government are all for making people more aware, more accountable, why remove ANOTHER avenue/layer of warning?

Your input greatly appreciated

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Public Fire Refuges and Bushfires

If you haven’t already figured, I’m very interested in this. In Marysville, during Ash Wednesday (1983) the Oval was the ‘safe’ place. Where the locals gathered, barrels of water, generators and general emergency type stuff. The same place I told my parents NOT to try and take my horse, because he was too unpredictable for them to handle. The roads were closed. I couldn’t get home, no buses running. The phone system was overloaded, mum somehow managed to get a message to my aunty to travel 2 hours to come and pick us up from school and take us back to her place. Horrible times. I was a mere child, but I’ve never forgotten those feelings of not knowing. NEVER.

Not long after that the Marysville Oval was deemed too risky to be used as fire refuge and Marysville was left without an nominated area. Some locals thought the golf Course, others the oval. The confusion was complete. Many did make it to the oval as per the news reports. Many were still there Sunday morning when I got into town.

Come Black Saturday (2009) when I lost phone contact with my parents, this time with hindsight I knew that things were bad. Just not how bad.

Public Refuges do have a place in EVERY township/settlement, I mean every and the councils of the area have no right to deny a township or settlement that peace of mind.

Residents in The Hills area in South Australia (Mitcham Council) are being denied Safe Refuges, because everyone is afraid of being made accountable. Hills & Valley Messenger Newspaper

Back in Victoria there are 9 designated ‘Neighbourhood Safer places’ in the Yarra Ranges area.

The state Government has allocated the amount of $500,000 for the state of Victoria to determine further ‘Neighbourhood Safer Places” That amount from what I can gather, covers the cost of signage ONLY. This is what a sign looks like.

It’s a standard size sign, approx 850mm x 200mm – blue background, white writing. The access to this particular ‘NSP’ was on a bend, and easy to miss on a clear, uncrowded road, I doubt I would be able to find it in heavy smoke or under stress. And the danger of accessing if coming from the north would be extreme, with the oncoming traffic coming around a blind corner.

There was no signage showing me where this site was located, I just happened to stumble across it whilst travelling.

I have just checked the CFA website and found this CFA - Neighbourhood Safer Places - I notice that the Murrindindi Shire/Council ONE NSP in their area. All the way up in Eildon. The Whittlesea Council has ONE NSP in their area. Too few for far too many people.

If the Council or State Governments won’t nominate an area that you will be safe in. Make sure you know where you will go on days of high fire risk. Failure to think about it might cause you to panic and do the wrong thing in times of stress.

Take care out there, no-one but you are responsible for you and your family.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The outcome of the Royal Commission and the bushfires of Black Saturday

I’ve read the recommendations, I’m no expert and I don’t pretend to be, but here is what I see:-

Recommendation 1:- “Enhance the role of warnings” This is very hard given the fact that wind changes (which can’t be predicted) caused many of the problems on Black Saturday. People MUST be prepared and accountable for days of high fire danger. It’s not the Governments responsibility.
Recommendation 2:- “Community education programs” I live in an area that was on high alert that day, due to the fires starting about 20km away. I have yet to see a letterbox drop. I have not seen any communication in relation to community education programs. I’m sure they are there, but I have not seen anything advertised.
Recommendation 3:- “evacuation and shelter for vulnerable residents” I’d be interested to know the locations of these shelters, as the general public have nothing put aside for them yet. What about neighbours? – On Black Saturday, our street ensured that the vulnerable residents were accounted for and removed or under the care of someone capable.
Recommendation 4:- “Replacing the 2005 Fire Refuges in Victoria” There were NO fire refuges in Victoria in 2005, all refuges were deemed unsafe due to public liability issues. Personal shelters for individuals, who will monitor these to ensure their ongoing safety compliance?
Recommendation 5:- “encourage individuals—especially vulnerable people—to relocate early” This is the leave earlier policy in different wording.
Recommendation 6:- “national curriculum incorporates the history of bushfire in Australia” We can't teach Australian History in schools, how can we teach bushfire danger to kids, without someone complaining we are terrorizing their children into fearing the bush?
Recommendation 7:- “to develop a national bushfire awareness campaign.” Isn’t that what the stay or go policy is? An awareness campaign about the dangers of bushfires?
Recommendation 8:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 9:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 10:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 11:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 12:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 13:- “introduce a graded scale of emergency declarations short of a state of disaster.” By avoiding calling a ‘State of Emergency’ the local government saves a lot of money. That is why the Black Saturday Fires were not declared a state of emergency because the funding that is provided once this has been declared is greater than if it had not been declared a state of emergency.
Recommendation 14:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 15:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 16:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 17:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 18:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 19:- “provide to all CFA volunteers an identification card” This is good, finally, even when clothed in CFA clothing, water tankers were unable to get through road blocks. Finally some common sense for support vehicles and support personnel.
Recommendation 20:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 21:- “aerial resources that are suitable for firefighting “ Considering we hire/rent/lease a fire fighting aircraft from the USA and that on Black Saturday it was claimed that most aircraft on Australian shores could not fight fires in any degree or fashion.
Recommendation 22:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 23:- these are internal issues for CFA (Why is the DSE not also mentioned here?)
Recommendation 24:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 25:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 26:- these are internal issues for CFA & DSE
Recommendation 27:- I agree with the replacement of the SWER lines, but this has been recommended for many years. Electricity linesmen have been saying this for years, because of the lack of maintenance performed over the years, and now the state of disrepair of the electricity cabling, we are going to be forced to pay for this, perhaps as high as a doubling of power bills to fund this upgrade.
I have a SWER line 20m from my house, that spans 1km of treed (and housed) area, how can that go underground? The aerial bundling won’t stop the cable breaking, but the replacement of may reduce the risk for many years.
Recommendation 28:- “change their asset inspection standards” This is a certainty and essential commitment that MUST be complied with, as discussed in a sitting at the Royal Commission
Recommendation 29:- is really just a re-hash of 28
Recommendation 30:- “to reduce the risks posed by hazardous trees “ I honestly thought that this would have been part of normal inspection process that is supposed to be carried out on a regular basis.
Recommendation 31:- “the identification of hazardous trees and notifying the responsible entities” is this a form of back-up insurance? To make sure that the electricity companies are doing their job? What other risk could trees be, other than risk to powerlines?
Recommendation 32:- “disable the reclose function” only 6 weeks? – The fire season doesn’t abide by dates or calendars, why only 6 weeks? Yes this will mean more power outages for regional areas, but perhaps it is for the greater good.
Recommendation 33:- Spreaders should be fitting on all lines, regardless of location, I thought this would have been standard practice.
Recommendation 34:- “The State amend the regulatory framework” and “to require it to fulfil that mandate” ummmmm, again I thought this would have already been in place and that being the case, why mandate that the mandate be fulfilled?
Recommendation 35:- “coordinated statewide approach to arson prevention “ The police can’t control arsonists. If arsonists are discovered, they go to court, they are released again on bail (as happened in the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne 2009) How can the police monitor that? – During peak fire season, if an arsonist is caught – they MUST be locked up for the duration of the fire season, it’s the only way to show a) we are serious, b) ease the workload on already stressed Police Officers.
Recommendation 36:- “National Action Plan to Reduce Bushfire Arson in Australia,” Relates again to Recommendation 35.
Recommendation 37:- These are internal issues for CFA and local Government.
Recommendation 38:- These are internal issues for CFA and local Government.
Recommendation 39:- These are internal issues for local Government
Recommendation 40:- These are internal issues for CFA and local Government
Recommendation 41:- These are internal issues for DSE and local Government
Recommendation 42:- These are internal issues for DSE
Recommendation 43:- These are internal issues for DSE
Recommendation 44:- These are internal issues for CFA
Recommendation 45:- “to urgently adopt a bushfire policy” Why is the Murrindindi Council singled out here? There were other townships affected. But I do agree with the principle of the idea
Recommendation 46:- “develop and implement a retreat and resettlement strategy” Good idea in theory, but non-compulsory? – What does this mean? We all know under ‘compulsory’ acquisition, that the value is well-under market value. What does this mean to landowners who choose this option?
Recommendation 47:- “reducing the risk of ignition from ember attack” is a MUST for buildings in high-risk areas. In fact common sense in reality.
Recommendation 48:- is really just Recommendation 47 worded differently.
Recommendation 49:- again Recommendation 47 & 48 reworded
Recommendation 50:- “develop a standard for bushfire sprinklers and sprayers” This is a MUST but in saying that – people can’t afford copper piping AND the cost is massive (and the risk of theft the same) – what else can be done?
Recommendation 51:- “existing buildings in bushfire-prone areas can be modified” This is a good idea – but again, the building owners should have already thought and put into action further protection means for the buildings.
Recommendation 52:- “the regular assessment of landowners’ compliance with conditions” The council will baulk at this – the cost and manpower required will incur cost and the councils will be reluctant to follow through.
Recommendation 53:- “amend s. 32 of the Sale of Land Act 1962 to require that a vendor’s statement include whether the land is in a designated Bushfire-prone Area” A good idea and allows for the potential purchaser to make decisions accordingly. The only failure of this, is that CFA are not compelled to attend properties in dead-end streets, This should also be commented on in the section 32, as a reminder of how alone you will actually be under the threat of fire.
Recommendation 54:- “issue fire prevention notices.” (Delegation is not a real issue) The CFA and MFB already do have this power, along with the council.
Recommendation 55:- “providing regular training and guidance material to planning and building practitioners” This should be encompassed under the council approval processes
Recommendation 56:- “a long-term program of prescribed burning” Correct, but there will be elements within society that disagree with this.
Recommendation 57:- “Department of Sustainability and Environment report annually on prescribed burning outcomes” again, as prescribed burning is done wholly within the domain of the DSE, This is covered within Recommendation 56.
Recommendation 58:- “long-term data collection to monitor and model the effects “ again, encompassed under Recommendations 56 & 57, with the reporting and increasing of burns.
Recommendation 59:- again encompassed under recommendations 56, 57 and 58. The use of wildfire was apt for the day of Black Saturday, but a ‘normal’ bushfire should be classified as such. A wildfire is just an increase in the strength of words, which is what the government wants.
Recommendation 60:- “the provisions allow for a broad range of roadside works capable of reducing fire risk” This decision (or change in rulings) will not appease some members of the community and cause Local Councils and Vicroads much hardship and possible confrontation in the field.
Recommendation 61:- “on resolving the competing tensions arising from the legislation affecting roadside clearing” addresses my exact concerns. Will the State and Commonwealth Governments have the guts to do this properly? The fires funnelled up the roadsides and creeks because of the quantity of scrub and rubbish in these areas.
Recommendation 62:- is just a rewording of 60 & 61.
Recommendation 63:- These are internal issues for Government and DSE and CFA
Recommendation 64:- “replace the Fire Services Levy with a property-based levy” This recommendation has long been fought for by insurance companies, the problem is will property insurance rates drop or remain stagnant because of this decision and what will be the effect on council rates?
Recommendation 65:- “a national centre for bushfire research” sounds like a good idea
Recommendation 66:- “assess progress with implementing the Commission’s recommendation” is definitely required, but will the time frames be fluffed to appease certain groups?
Recommendation 67:- “The State consider the development of legislation for the conduct of inquiries in Victoria” Is this a slap in the face for the Victorian Labor Government, in essence the governments response and knee-jerking regarding the interim report?

Now remember the above is MY PERSONAL views on the subject. I understand that CFA/DSE/MFB/Victoria Police policies along with Government rules and regulations, all have an impact on my life, but it’s not for me to dissect these decisions and possible outcomes. That is why I have avoided comment on recommendations encompassing those areas.

I still don’t think enough emphasis has been placed on personal responsibility; each and every adult who lives in a high fire danger area has a personal responsibility to every child and aged adult in their care. I don’t think this has been stressed enough.

Something that the media and the general public have been avoiding commenting on is the issuing of fire warnings. For three days prior to the tragic day of Black Saturday, the media was crawling with the Premier, the Chief of the CFA and others who stated quite clearly that Saturday the 7th February 2009, was going to be the worst day that Victoria had seen in many decades.

I understood that to mean that the risk of fire was basically inevitable and consequently could not be ignored. I was on alert and saw the smoke of the Kilmore fire long before anything was in the media. From that moment onwards I enacted our fire plan and ensured that everyone on the street was aware. Once the fire situation made it to the media my father was calling me, checking that we were organised, checking that we were okay.

The public were warned, perhaps not on the day – things were moving too quickly, I could only follow the fire from what I could visually sight. Not from the media, or the CFA website simply because the information must have been coming in too quickly.

I have blogged previously about the events after this time. I have no wish to re-visit that ground, it has been done and nothing can be changed.

Remember this blog is MY PERSONAL VIEW.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Double-Glazed Windows

I was having a conversation with my 13yo, about his grandfather and some conversations that they had in the past.

My son said to me that grandpa thought the only reason that their house didn’t burn too, was because of the double-glazed windows. This surprised me, I wasn’t aware that my son knew what double-glazed windows were.

I was right – the next question was – “mum, what are double-glazed windows?”

I then explained to him that double-glazed windows are two sheets of glass with air in between, held in the window frame, so that the two pieces don’t touch and the air in the middle is like a cushion, that stop s the house getting too hot or too cold and during the fire it did the same thing.

Mstr13 then pipes up and says, “Yeah, that’s what grandpa said. He said single-glaze windows cracked and then the drapes (USA speak URRGGHH) caught fire and then the house burnt.”

Mstr13, then went on to say that Nanna burnt her fingers when she touched the window frame, when the fire was outside.

I knew these things, but had never discussed them with my children, I didn’t want to scare them anymore that I did that Sunday/Monday when I went to Marysville.

As it was Mstr13 was nearly suspended from school, for checking his mobile phone during class on Monday, thinking that I may have called. It took some quick talking with the school to avoid that.

This conversation has only come to light in the last week. I’m not even sure why or how.

Children are constantly thinking and talking, you’d be surprised, don’t think your children don’t want to know, they do, share your knowledge, it might save their life one day.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Before and After - The Difference 110 Days Makes

I don't think you need any more words. I didn't realise I had these photos until tonight.

20th October 2008

February 8th 2009 approx 5.30am

October 2008
A little closer than the original - taken about 5.30am 8th February 2009. Notice the bucket? - I used that to stop the smouldering retaining wall.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Victoria Lives at Risk #7

I know its almost winter, I know that few people except those with a keen interest will be checking out the CFA website for bushfires, let alone any fires.

But once again the CFA feed for the fire locations IS NOT WORKING. The DSE Site IS working, with the same information, but if you live in Epping, Victoria, why would you check the DSE site? - When the CFA is your fire brigade?

This is not the first time and I doubt will be the last. If it is a planned outage, then notice should be posted on the site, on the relevant page.

I was informed at 19.36hrs EST, that the website has currently been down for 20 hours. It is now 20.42hrs EST and there is no notice on the site, nor has the site come back up.

If this was to happen mid-summer, I'm sure there would be an uproar, but since it's winter and little threat is posed, who cares?

I hate to say it but I care - my reasons for caring are that a site that can't work properly in winter, what hope have we got in summer when the threat is real and not imagined?

The people who run the technical side of things for the CFA need to fix this urgently as I have been blogging about every outage that I am made aware of.

Here the major outages that I am aware of and have been able to prove.

Dec 2009 - Outage #1
Dec 2009 - Reason for Outage
Dec 2009 - Outage #2
Jan 2010 - Outage #3
Jan 2010 - Outage #4
Jan 2010 - Outage #5
Feb 2010 - Outage #6

At the risk of repeating myself:-
"We must make our voices heard over the politics, over the government protectionism of public liability, we need multiple sources of information and not information that is hidden from all except a few who understand how these things work.

“Emergency Services Minister Bob Cameron says people should never rely only on the CFA website."

So tell me Mr Cameron – what do we rely on? Or do we leave our house, our business or animals to the hand of God?

Victorians have a right to know - not be kept in the dark like mushrooms. We have a right to defend if capable/able"

**It is now 7.23hrs EST 31.05.10 and the CFA website is still down, making a total of 32 hours that the CFA has been down for so far. This is not acceptable

** The site finally came back up again at 10.05hrs EST 31.05.10 - making a total of 35 hours down time

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Royal Commissions and Arse-Protection

I’m not going to pretend I’ve been following all the goings on in the Royal Commission for the last 150 days, I’ve had other things to deal with.

But what I have seen from the media and the transcripts doesn’t make for pretty reading.

One thing that has upset me from the day the fires hit was the removal of the fire refuges, due to public liability issues. The State Government passed this responsibility onto the councils and the councils promptly shut down 99% of the fire refuges, due to public liability issues. When people needed somewhere to turn, there was nowhere.

Then the State Government steps in at the release of the interim report from the Royal Commission and instigates a whole raft of proposals, regulations and rules with little thought for the consequences.

One example was/is the release of the “Code Red” days and warnings and the closing of schools, education centres. Fine in theory – but in real life will not work.

Then there are reports in the media of some councils closing council properties on these declared days in the hope of avoiding responsibility in the case of another fire like Black Saturday.

It is now 18 months after the fact, there has been no real change in protection of the communities previously affected, nor those that weren’t affected, but need protection.

In 18 months, a Royal Commission started by the State Government, has now become a ball and chain for the Labor State Government and possibly the Federal Government, especially with the election looming on the horizon.

People that they placed in command that day have openly lied about their whereabouts on that fateful day. How could a serving member forget their whereabouts on a day now labeled the worse in Victoria’s History?

I’m sure if you think back you could remember where you were and what you did. Given 20 years things may be different, but 18 months after the fact the memory will still be fresh. So explain how someone so heavily involved could forget?

Then there is the lost fire path prediction maps – thrown out by the cleaners? – I don’t think so.

The half-arsed CFA pager system – No wonder the CFA volunteers were struggling. Between the metropolitan digital system and the analogue country system. They had no chance.

Until recently (like April 2010) there was an open URL that could be used to trace all the CFA pager messages that went out from the search and rescue messages, to road accidents, out of control fires, to admin messages advising where keys were located for stations. I’m not sure who else was aware of this ‘leak’ but it got patched once the CFA pager problems were made public. That URL had been operational since March 2009 that I am personally aware of – as I am the person who located it.

The Royal Commission has resulted in many people in many areas falling into self-protection mode and not telling the WHOLE truth for fear of retribution, be it from their bosses or the public. A public office position is highly coveted and thus many people will forgo morals and ethics in favour of public opinion or they will do as they are told by those higher than themselves.

I foretell now that many recommendations put forward by the Royal Commission into the fires of February 2009, will not be implemented, just as the Royal Commission into the fires in 1939, sees many recommendations not implemented today, some 70 years later.

Therefore the Government, both State and Local need to step back. An example of a resident trying to do the right thing before the fires. He requested (four) 4 trees be felled and had to pay a fee of $94.00 and was prohibited from removing others from the same block.After the fires the owner was allowed to removed 194. Can anyone see a problem with this? – I know I can. Oh and the removal permit of $94 was also overlooked in the aftermath of the fires. That’s local government for you.

Australians have always liked the bush, therefore many of us choose to live in the bush, amongst nature, amongst the tall trees, amongst the animals. It is OUR responsibility to ensure we are safe, to ensure that we survive, not the governments, not the councils.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Even The Best Laid Plans Can Fail

My father was trustee of the local cemetery. He took his position seriously, including preserving the towns’ history. So much so that long before the fires of Black Saturday destroyed the township of Marysville. He had copied the original burial records and distributed 3 copies through the township.

It was unthinkable that ALL the houses in Marysville would burn. Sure 50%-75% but not 99% of every building in the township destroyed beyond recognition.

These ledgers contained the memories of the township – dating back to the first settler, right back to the late 1800’s.

My mother and father knew that Marysville would burn eventually; it was only a matter of time. No-one could foresee the extent of the damage and the complete isolation the town faced that night.

That night saw the destruction of all 3 copies of the burial ledger. The original only survived because of my fathers tenacity and his knowledge that other people besides his wife were sheltering in his home, the home he saved from the fires. Only metres from the road where the fire crews were forced to retreat or die.

When it comes to precious things, be it paper or electronic media – the only message I can (and do) drum into people is many locations, many formats, it could be something like a blog that disappears (as happened to someone this week) to precious family photos, to something like a public document. You can never be too careful.

Take as many copies as you can, spread them world-wide. Keep them electronically, keep hard copies, keep copies on media back-ups. But make sure you don’t only rely on once source of back-up.

Same goes for passports and similar – send copies to a friend in a sealed envelope, with instructions that the envelope is only to be opened on your instruction or death. Send your wills, etc in the same fashion.

Until you have been faced with the utter total devastation bought about by these fires, you think it can't and won't happen to me. Fine you may never be affected by a fire of such force and destruction BUT................ you may lose you phone, your hard-drive may fail.

Here are two posts with similar messages on my other blog . I don't care where in the world you are - remember everything fails once, even the best laid plans.
Back Up, Did I say Back-Up?
How Safe is the Data in Your Safe?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Christine Nixon and Black Saturday

I wasn’t going to enter the fray regarding Christine Nixon and her dinner date whilst the state burnt, but I think now has come the time for me to discuss MY thoughts and opinions regarding this issue.

People have been loud in their support for and against Christine Nixon.

Neil Mitchell has taken a caning, yet he is only reporting what was said in the Royal Commission, word for word, public opinion took over from there.

The Thank-you concert at Federation Square last night saw Christine Nixon cheered as she approached the stage.

Kevin Rudd and John Brumby have both stood by her and say that she has done nothing wrong.
Ted Baillieu of the opposition is calling for her resignation.

Fran Bailey the local member for Parliament for the seat of McEwen, the seat hit hardest by the fires, is also calling for her resignation.

Tony Abbott is sitting on the fence, saying that “She made an error in judgment”

The blogging community can’t decide to support or sack Christine Nixon. The blog “Telling it Like it is” has made these comments on Hysteria Burning hotter than ever

Then you have the blog “” which stands on the sacking side with Nixon made un-acceptable mistake when Victoria needed her.

Only the people directly affected should really have any say. My personal opinion is YES she made an error in judgment, but what hurts the most is the fact, she tried to cover it up, either lie outright (as some have done) or tell the complete and utter truth. There is no in-between when dealing with what is now a Royal Commission and therefore a fact finding mission, not a blame game.

Remember this is MY PERSONAL OPINION and nothing more, nor less.

Christine Nixon made an error in judgment, she had a moral and ethical duty to be standing side by side and shoulder to shoulder with the men and women who were fighting the battle, be it on the ground or in the control room. She should have been there, to witness the suffering, to witness the panic, to witness the way HER organisation managed or didn’t manage all aspects of the situation.

She had a duty of care and she has been negligent in her duty.

Christine Nixon is now no longer in the position, in which she failed, perhaps that is a good thing, but to say that she needs to be sacked is a completely different thing. Perhaps she was already aware she had let ‘The side’ down on that day and by her filling the position she now does, she is compensating for the lack of care and attention.

Only one person knows and that is not you and me. Only time will tell if she is strong enough and has the guts to stand up to the critics and face her personal demons, just like those that survived that night have to do.

Also in closing remember she is not the only member of our emergency services who failed us on that day, many many people decided not to turn up to work on that day, because it was too hot, because it was Saturday. Some of the absenteeism records for that day are abysmal, she is not the only person that should be singled out if you want to play the blame game.

Yes the houses would have burnt, yes lives would have been lost, but morally she had a duty to be on duty - that's what we paid her for.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Memory – in Flames

Went to Marysville again over Easter. I’ve resisted walking around, simply because everywhere I look I see burnt stuff (Yes pun intended)

Everything I once knew has gone, changed or now seems so far from reality I can’t fathom it.

Hubby and I played tourist for all of about 10 minutes, I had to mail something and thought that to mail it from Marysville would be appropriate considering they were “The Marysville Cookbook”. We parked behind the bakery and used the mail box there.

We then took the opportunity to walk down the arcade or what’s remaining of it and onto the main street. There was photo exhibition, run by volunteers and funded with donations Go Marysville which I thought I should go and have a look at. We did,. I walked in and started looking at the room from the left hand side. I was fine until I got almost out the door and there attached to the wall was the phone box from outside the post office. The last time I saw it, it was still burning. That is something I remember. I remember other things, but that phonebox seemed so important, the reason I was in Marysville that dreadful morning was because the phones no longer worked and it seemed symbolic.

I ended up having to walk out and hide my tears. I couldn’t let others see me like this. I’m meant to be strong. I put myself in that situation; therefore I’m not allowed to say anything.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for residents. I can’t pretend to – I don’t know. All I know is they must be better and stronger people than me.

I can understand why long-time/life-time residents say they can’t and won’t return. I can sympathise with them fully.

There are some things Marysville need from what I’ve been able to understand
1. Tourism and the money it brings in, with it comes employment
2. Physical memorabilia, things like mementos, real photos, china, things from Guest houses etc
3. Photos, not just photos from the 1900’s but photos as recently as January 2009. They don’t need to be professional quality. But photos of guesthouses, of homes, of streetscapes, of shops, of people, of signs, anything that is Marysville.

Marysville will rebuild, Marysville will live on, Marysville will still have the colours of autumn, the snows of winter and the coolness of summer and the new life of spring. It takes time and support from the wider community of the city and interstate and international people. Marysville will live on.

Let your memories be happy ones, make memories. Photographs might set the scene, but can’t convey the feelings and the happiness of the times.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cut My Power & Remove My Ability to make Life-Saving Decisions

An article today in the Herald-Sun claims Power Could be Cut on Catastrophic & High Risk Bushfire Days To Stop Fires 31.03.2010 that Electricity Distributor Powercor, is considering cutting power to high risk towns on days of extreme fire danger to remove the possibility of fires started through fallen/sparking overhead electricity wires.

This outage covers 52 towns, plus those little hamlets in-between, from Angelsea to Bendigo. That means no restaurants, no ice-cream, no take-away, no swimming pools, no shopping centres, no supermarkets, in fact NO tourism. People would learn to stay away and the income lost would destroy 1000’s of lives and certainly more than one business.

In theory it might seem good, but it can’t and won’t work and will cause more deaths than fires will and have.

People rely on electricity for many things, not just air-conditioning. Simple things like:-
Drinking water,
Septic systems,
Toilet flushing,
Fire warnings,
Contact with the outside world,
Hot Water,
Opening and Closing garage doors,
Life-support systems,
Asthma pumps.

These are just SOME of the problems that residents will be faced with. This reaction by Powercor is one of let’s not maintain the lines, let’s not worry about the maintenance, let’s just turn the power off and we can reduce electricity load AND reduce our liability. If’s there’s no power, people can’t sue for downed power lines which may have caused fires. Quote from above article “A Powercor Australia spokesman said turning off the power was a way of preventing electrical assets starting fires in extreme situations.”

Without electricity I would now likely be without my parents – as referred to Here

As a receiver of said electricity and as the payer of said supply charges, I will have to consider not paying the ‘supply charge’ component of my bill as they are not supplying me with a product I am paying for. What would happen then? I would be sued, for not paying a component of my bill, which they failed to supply. Imagine if EVERY person who has their electricity cut on high risk days followed this method, what would be the outcome?

On days when it is being considered cutting power to homes in high-risk areas, these are the exact same days that the very old, the very young, and the frail are most likely to be affected by the heat and this may possibly cause death.

From this article Dept of Health - Environment - 2007 it is claimed that there are 1000 heat-related deaths in people over the age of 65 and that these deaths are expected to climb substantially by 2050. It is possible that a rise in deaths of between 11-16%is possible. Are you prepared to die or allow your parents or children to die because an electricity supplier thinks it’s safer to cut the electricity rather than maintain the lines, like they should have been doing for the past 10-20 years?

I know I'm not prepared to die, although I am prepared for the encroachment of fire on my home and my life, I shouldn't be unfairly punished because I live in an area that is considered high risk. Remember there are areas of metropolitian Melbourne that are also considered high risk and if the fires of Black Saturday had managed to encroach on those areas, the authorities were already prepared to shut major roads and let those suburbs burn.

Electricity suppliers can't cut the power in lieu of maintenance, the governing body MUST ensure that the correct maintenance is done in accordance with all rules, regulations and laws they are governed by.

31.03.10 - 15.24hrs - I've just been shown this article CPUC Rejects SDG&E's Power Shutoff Plan from a San Diego newspaper in the USA. It covers EXACTLY what I have referred to above.

Note:- "Critics of SDG&E's proposal have argued it would leave vast parts of the county without vital services during times of emergency. Water couldn't be pumped, medical devices would be inoperative and residents would not be able to turn on their televisions, radios and computers or receive phone calls to get critical emergency information, according to opponents of the plan."

"The shut-off plan has always been a diversion from the real problem: for years, SDG&E has failed to enact known safety measures that would prevent wildfire caused by its infrastructure,"

Turning off the power will cause the loss of more life, through heat stroke, and/or accidents and house fires, than bushfires would cause. The events of Black Saturday were claimed to be a once in a 100 year event. Yet if the electricity suppliers had it their way - they'd shut off the power when the sun sneezed.