I have been asked to pass on my thoughts regarding bushfire preparedness and being part of the Bushfire Ready Community.
Back in 2015 we were living in Victoria and made the trek to Denmark for our eldest grandson’s first Christmas. My father and stepmother were living on the border of the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley in SA. Dad was a stubborn old man with memory loss issues and Lyn having just been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia and was in a secure unit at the Gumeracha Hospital in the Adelaide Hills. A fire started in a previously unknown area called Samson Flat, the fire was out of control and heading my parents way – I spent many hours on the phone organising for my Dad to visit a friend in Adelaide taking with him his emergency bottle of scotch, and confirming that the Adelaide Metropolitan Fire Service had been given the task of protecting the hospital – that was my introduction into the fury and life threatening potential of a bush fire!
Gary and I decided to sell our home in Victoria and purchased Dad’s property to be closer to Dad and Lyn. With the Samson Flat fire still in the forefront of everyone’s mind, I set to and with the help of Penny, the CFS Community Officer set up our local fire tree. My Dad and many of the local residents had lived in the area for up to 40 years and this was the first time many of the neighbours had met. Although the fire tree ground work had been commenced it wasn’t fully in place when the Pinery fire started on the western boundary of the Barossa – the area was mostly grain and sheep and wasn’t meant to burn – but burn it did – I remember the black sky with a bright red glow, the smoke, the sirens, the radio blaring warnings and the PANIC! From that day on I was determined to be more prepared for myself, my family and for those near and dear.
Low and behold – another move – this time to beautiful Denmark to be closer to our daughters and growing brood of grandchildren. Living in the natural beauty of Springdale Heights has its challenges, one of them being bushfire. I again set about establishing a community fire tree, which came into its own in February 2019 when we were attending a family wedding in Melbourne. We had just arrived at a friend’s home for a couple of days R&R before returning home. I got a call from our youngest daughter saying that there was smoke coming from our estate – action stations! I set up the laptop, went straight to the emergency website and saw the warnings – before we went on holidays we passed our street co-ordinators role to our neighbour – a call to him and the fire tree was put into action, I received a couple of calls from DFES updating me on the situation – again very scary with being so far away and unable to do anything other than watch the laptop and continue to make the appropriate calls from a couple of thousand kilometres away. Thankfully the firies were able to extinguish the fire – another couple of metres on Beata Court and the fire would have jumped the road and the outcome would have been a completely different story.
I urge every community member to join the Fire Ready movement and learn how to prepare, what signs to look for and what action to take when we have a fire. My intention is not to scare anyone, but being complacent will only lead to panic in an emergency and that is what none of us need.