The above is a headline on the front page of the “Age”
Newspaper, printed in Victoria on 18th January 2007.
The line at the top was underneath a photograph of a man in tears sitting desolate on the step of what was once
The headline tells most of it – and the official assessment
now of the extent of fire desctruction in Victoria is 20%. That’s
1/5th of the entire State of Victoria. A State I live in and love. The second smallest State in Australia, roughly
the same size as Scotland and England. That’s not big.
Australia is I believe, the worst place in the world for bush fires. And if it wasn’t before, it certainly is
now. But then, bush fires are a part of summer
in Australia and elsewhere.
Which brings me to the reason I am writing on this subject.
There are many places in the world prone to bush (wild) fires.
And it’s a wise idea to know something about them – in case you are ever
caught in or near one.
If living in a rural setting no matter where in the world you
live, follow these rules and make them a must at certain times of the month or year. Your
choice as to when.
** Clean out
gutters of dead leaves and rubbish that could catch fire – particularly in the summer. If possible, have installed a grid that allows rain only into the gutters and no dry leaves
** Regularly sweep
all dead leaves & grass and fallen twigs from around your home. Keep it clean
from ‘fire fodder’ at all times.
stack wood near your home – have a separate area for it, as far as possible from the perimeters
of the house.
** Keep hoses attached
to taps in your garden – year
round. Don’t wind them up and store them, just because it is winter – you
don’t want to be unraveling hoses from the garage, because your chimney is alight from your first winter cosy fireside.
(and regularly clean out that chimney too).
** if possible have
a separate water source apart from mains water. That could be a pool, or tank
water. Not everyone can afford such things, but if you can – have
a separate water source.
** Have a
fire evacuation plan and make a decision well before hand, when and if you are going to leave.
People with children and pets, usually leave a threatened area. They
of course are your priority – and make your packing of cases, boxes etc small – be ruthless in your choice of
what you take with you. Only a few of your very best treasures, important
papers such as the Title to your home, medications that are needed on a daily basis, food for pets,
and water. Decide at what stage you
will leave and where you will be going to. Stick to your own rules like glue –
DO NOT LEAVE IT TOO LATE TO GO. Late evacuation can be deadly. Most bush fire deaths involve people caught in cars or on foot.
Once a fire is close, visibility is poor and traveling hazardous.
attempt to tackle a bush, brush or wild fire unless adequately covered from head to foot in proper clothing, a hat with neck protection on it, heavy boots and gloves. That
may sound strange – in the middle of summer ? you ask.
YES – as radiant heat will sear the skin off a person who
is exposed in just shorts and T shirt and can kill a person in a very short space of time
without even touching the body at all. The wearing of heavy protection
is no more uncomfortable than it would feel if you were gardening on a normal summers day in summer clothing. In fact the body feels COOLER with some protection between it (the body) and a very strong heat
** In particular,
watch out for embers that are blown from a fire that might be quite a way from yourselves. A wind will pick them up and carry them, still nicely alight to possibly
land in your own front garden. Doesn’t have to be gale force winds – just a stiff breeze is enough to carry embers.
** Watch on days
of thunderstorms – be alert. Lightning starts so many of the bush
fires in our country, and has been the cause of many of the shocking fires we have this day.
** Learn to look
and smell for smoke. Observe keenly. Look for smoke haze, or an unusual glow in the sky. Particularly learn to distinguish smoke aromas.
The above has been mostly
taken from official sources,
particularly a centrefold
in a newspaper from November last year,
from the reminders we get
from the CFA yearly, and from my own knowledge.
There is no point in going
into lengthy details about :
But if you care to look
them up for yourselves – please do.
A huge and grateful
thank you to trained men and women from New Zealand, Canada and America, who have flown in to assist the exhausted volunteer
Victorian and Interstate