Speaking of Fire Services …

Listening to Dr Neil’s latest notes and noted he mentioned the South Australian Fire Service.  In Victoria the volunteer fire service is known as the Country Fire Authority (CFA). A lot of people don’t seem to realize that these fire services are staffed by volunteers from the community, much like myself. They give freely of their time, and a lot of it, to help keep the community safe, reduce loss of life and property damage when bush fires hit. 
This year, after record number of drought years, it’s looking to be a really nasty season. Summer hasn’t even started and we have already had a number of serious fires.  We’re expecting the worse, and hoping for the best 😉 
So what can you do to help ?
there’s three basic things you can do:
 (i) learn what to do in case of fire (plan to stay or leave early)
 (ii) join the CFA
 (iii) donate to the CFA
(i) If you are not familiar with fire, have never experienced a real bushfire, my personal advice is get out of there early.  Don’t leave it to the last minute, and don’t think you can control a fire single handed. For most people the dense smoke, intense heat, and loud roar of a fire puts them in panic mode, and fire doesn’t forgive mistakes.. it kills.  If you aren’t trained, leave, and leave early.
(ii) If you’re near a CFA station, think about joining.  New members are always welcome and we can generally find something for you to do regardless of your fitness level.  And as a bonus you’ll get trained.  You will need to complete a minimal skills training before attending any fire.
(iii) Make a donation.  CFA fire stations are funded by both the government and the community.  For example, we’re putting our own funds together with half a dozen fire stations this year to buy a 4WD ute.  So making a donation to your local fire station helps us have the right equipment to get the job done.  It also helps moral, as a sign of community support for all the hours we put in 🙂
If you’re not near a CFA station, and would still like to make a donation of goods or funds, you can always make a donation to my station 🙂  It would be most welcome !!
Some things we would like to have are:
– GPS units.  Yes believe it or not we don’t have *any* in our truck or support vehicles. I’ve heard the CFA is planning on supplying them in a couple of years time, but we could really do with one now.  It’s pretty hard to know where you are in smoky conditions in the bush.
– Recreational equipment.  On hot days (especially when there’s strong winds) we try to spend some time at the station so as we can respond immediately.  Unfortunately with no phone, no broadband, and not even a TV aerial, it can get very boring.   Anything to help there would be great.. do you have an old xbox you no longer need ?  Or even a large TV (we have a small one) ?  Or maybe even a pool table, or table tennis table ?  (note I can organize transport from Melbourne)
Oh, and here’s a test for you folk who might be thinking about staying and protecting your house.  Let’s say you have a blanket, and buckets of water ready, including the bathtub full of water.  You soak the blanket and get under it as the fire approaches.  Right or wrong ?
The answer is of course you never soak the blanket.  Water conducts heat. Wetting the blanket will give you a high chance of getting severe burns.  Sadly you see on the movies people wetting down the blanket.  anyway, if you honestly didn’t know this, or had to stop and think about it before answering, then please leave early when a fire comes.  houses can be rebuilt, humans not so easily.

2 Comments so far

  1.   Mitch Denny on October 28th, 2006          

    Hi Bill,

    I can vouch for the fact that the CFA does a great job. I joined the local Narre Warren brigade back when I lived in Melbourne. Unfortunately with so much travel I missed out on a lot of training and ultimately had to give it away when I moved to the ACT.

    You’ve inspired me to look into it again (although I have the same problem – travel).

  2.   bill on October 29th, 2006          

    hey Mitch,

    cool. I’m sure with the upcoming season they could do with every experienced hand they can get !