Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fires - stay and defend or leave early

I am not posting today, but I am collecting material. This disaster has revealed so many things about Australia and the way we do things.

I think that I would like to write a post on this, although it is a big ask to do properly. Just to quote John Brumby - how could you evacuate 500,000 people? Then what about the Kinglake builder who has already started rebuilding, bringing power and water? This is personal, not relying on Government.

There are so many dimensions.

Government is, rightly from a broad perspective, keeping people out of fire zones. Yet this conflicts with individual actions required to stabilise and re-build. Can these conflicting needs be balanced?

I have a passionate belief in the power and goodness of individuals.

Tragedy and triumph. A bit of bad in the midst of good. People in the midst of tragedy and despair who still break through. I do not think Australians realise just how remarkable they are.


Kanani said...

The Los Angeles Times ran a long article the other day on how the Australian "stay and fight or evacuate" differs greatly from ours over here in California.

Given the enormity of successive losses the last few years, I'm wondering if we're about to change our own policy toward yours. I don't know.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi again, Kanani. Interesting that the LA times ran a story on the Australian approach.

The leave early or stay and fight policy was introduced after the bad 1983 Ash Wednesday fires in Victoria when so many lost their lives trying to escape.

The policy will obviously be reviewed this time, but even now many of those who died were trying to flee. I am pretty sure that it will stay.

The policy does not stand on its own. It is combined with information and education - people who stay are expected to prepare their homes.

All Fire Authorities presently believe that it saves lives and properties. In a sense, it makes the local community the first line of defence against fires.

Kanani said...

Well, look what arrived in my box today, and I guess I am going. The meeting is in a few hours, not far from my home:

From: The Orange County Fire Association:

The OCFA has been working to modify Australia’s “Leave Early or Stay and Defend” program to meet the needs of the urban interface communities of Orange County. OCFA will introduce its wildfire preparation program on Wednesday. The tragic events of the current firestorms in Australia re-emphasize the need for community action and preparation ahead of the wildfires.

Other than that, I'm desperately cleaning house. Looks like I got the job I went up for yesterday, which is all good news in this economy!

Jim Belshaw said...

Hey, great news about the job!I would be interested to find out about the OCFA meeting in due course.