The politicians may choose to ignore the science, but Fire Chiefs are adamant that climate change has contributed to the devastating bushfires experienced in New South Wales and Queensland, much earlier than previously seen. In Victoria, the cooler start to summer and the fire season could lull us into a false sense of security, but the heat will arrive, predictions are that we can expect a long, hot and dry summer season AND we still live in one of the most bushfire prone regions in the world.
Currently the State Government is running the “How well do you know fire?” campaign running across all media. It’s designed to make people “sit up and take notice. The images and messages delivered in these ads are hard hitting – even shocking. For example in the fact sheet attached to the campaign, states that radiant heat can kill from 300m away and a single ember can start a new fire from 40km away. These are hard statistics to take in and highlight the bravery of the selfless efforts of the volunteers of the Country Fire Authority. These people stand as the vanguard for protecting life and property in rural and regional towns.
There is no organisation like the Country Fire Authority anywhere else in the world – it is unique to Australia. Of the 59,000 CFA members, some are career fire fighters, but 97% are volunteers serving more than 50% of Victoria. The CFA comes readily to mind during the fire season and no one can deny the selfless work they do to protect our State, but they do much more throughout the year. Teams work with emergency services dealing with bush and structure fires, road accidents, chemical spills and natural disasters.
However, the local CFA is often much more than firefighters and educators. They can be the hub of the community, sometimes taken for granted, sometimes overlooked, but their role is crucial to the cohesiveness of any country town. Many small towns have suffered from the exodus of facilities such as the local hall, the pub, schools and shops, with the CFA branch being the only community focus left. The challenge for small communities is to maintain their current brigade numbers and actively recruit new ones.
Looking at the fires that have occurred over the past few years and more recently the devastation in NSW and Qld, communities and individuals cannot rely on fire fighters alone. We are all responsible for our own wellbeing. Find out how by visiting the Country Fire Authority website. http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au