Nuff Nuff

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.


nicole said...

First of all: I'm not even living in Australia, I'm in Germany. I lived in Melbourne for a while as an exchange student (in 1992) and came back a few times to visit friends.

Personally I think a fire drill might be a good idea because it will show people where to go, maybe even when to go. It might make them less confused if they have to actually evacuate and, if it's done by fire fighters, I'm pretty sure they will make sure to put some scary thoughts into peoples heads.

Of course nothing can actually prepare you for a bushfire like that in 2009. I'm pretty sure everyone will agree with that. Nothing could have prepared the people living along the Danube for the flood a decade ago either.
We do fire drills at school every year. To make sure kids will know to leave all their things behind. Everything. That they will know where to go when the siren sounds, and to know where their class will gather so they'll know to go there even if they're on the loo when the alarm starts.
Of course that's not an actual fire that will prepare them for a school on fire, flames and smoke everywhere, but it's not supposed to. It's supposed to make them aware of where to go and how to get there and _to leave everything behind_.

Heather said...

Thank-you for the comments Nicole, appreciated.

A builkding fire drill is so far from the real world of bushfires it's hard to describe.

2009 was like nothing in almost living history. I think the closest would be the 1939 fires. 117 souls were lost then.

A building fie gives you paths to follow (corridors) windows to exit by, a bushfire leaves not escape route. A bushfire can drop a ball of flame 500m-1km (or further) in front of the actual fire front, which could be your front yard.

We lost 173 people in the fires of Black Saturday.

The point I'm trying to make is that Mock fire Evacuation, may give people a false sense of security, in that we did this then, let's do it again. But evacuating a fire at the last minute is NOT something to be considered and I don;t want people with a false sense fo security, saying that the mock Fire Evauation, we did this this and that, so it will be fine.
Fire is unpredictable, fire is untameable and fire is dangerous and in some cases deadly.

I want people to make one of two decisions, stay and fight the fire (as they are permitted to do under Australia Law) OR leave early and not to place themselves in danger.

To leave late can, did and will cost lives and that is what this blog is all about, stopping that loss, even if only ONE person heeds anything written here.