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Life After Bushfires

Powderfinger
Senior Contributor

From a former firefighter's perspective.

I wrote an article just today actually. I know this sub forum is for victims of bushfires to share their stories. I guess I just wanted to also share from a former firefighters experience and experience. Firefighters can experience trauma as well, and develop what is known as PTSD. Year after year, I see footage of people that leave me feeling mad. The thing is I am actually not feeling mad with the person, I am feeling helpless watching it happen and knowing that the person has put themselves in great danger. There is every chance a firefighter could come along and get them out, doing checks in order to save peoples lives. The thing is they are risking their life in doing so. They also may have left it too late for an avenue of being able to escape the fires alive. 

I also feel mad because year after year, people are still dying. I ask myself why have people not learnt from catastrophic Australin bushfires in the past? Do they think they are immune? Do they not understand fire? I get FRUSTRATED year in and year out. So this year, I decided, I am going to write an article and get it to as many people as I can. 

I mean no disrespect to the victims of bushfires who post their personal stories here. Nor do I hold any judgement either. I just want to see less deaths if any and for more of the Australian public to get more educated and prepared around bushfire season. A copy of my article is below to be read.

Please remember what is shared here, stays here. That includes the article. Thank you. 

 

Former Firefighter- Cautions About This Summer Season.

 

There are fires each year, all around the year in Australia. Every person knows that from November through till February Australia is on high alert for bushfire season. I am an ex rural firefighter and every year from now on, I am going to write a post during bushfire season.

 

There are so many things I want to stress to the Australian, Indigenous and other Cultural ethnicities about bush fire season in Australia. Please listen to this very important and clear advice. I am writing in order to save your life, your kids lives and your pets lives. I am no longer out there fighting bushfires to be able to save you, your children nor your pets anymore, but I can still use my experience to potentially save your life, your family and your four or two legged family.

 

This is advice for anyone, however it is especially imperative advice for those who live in areas who are known to be more prone and in danger of bushfires occurring very easily. We have had too many deaths in Australia over the years and I am hoping we can reduce those numbers drastically.

 

This is my advice.

 

From September onwards please start cleaning out your gutters of debris. Leaves, sticks and whatever else has gotten caught up in your gutters.If you safely know how to backburn on your property and you know it is necessary, please do it as soon as possible. Preferably towards the end of October and no later than the first week of November. If you are not confident enough to do that on your own, you can always call the local fire warden to come out and do an assessment of your property.

 

He/She will make suggestions of what needs to be done and hey presto the team will come out and get the job done safely. Backburning is necessary and it could actually save your home as you have caused a fire break. Sure a fire needs oxygen, but it also needs material to burn. If it has nothing to burn, it cannot go anywhere.

 

If you know there is a potential you may need to leave your home, please do not think you will be OK and it will not happen to you. A fire spreads very fast and it doesn't slow itself down so you can get prepared. There is a terrible roaring sound and that can be very frightening as it gets closer.

The closer it gets, the thicker the smoke becomes which makes visibility and the ability to breathe much harder. Listen very closely to reports and pay attention what is being said with the reports. Do not risk your life, your kids lives and families lives by staying till the last minute.

 

Around the first week of October or as soon as possible if it cannot be done then, pick a small box for each family member and put things in that box that are important. Important documents, photos, family heirlooms, kids favorite toys, some clothing, things for your pets, whatever is personal to you. Make it only one small box each and as light as possible. If you have to leave, you do not want to be carrying heavy boxes and trying to find room in the car for them.

 

Work out your safety plan. It does not have to be in depth. Basic things like which route you will take to get yourself and your family to safety. Sometimes roads are not accessible. Trees may have fallen and are blocking the roadway. Usually in the early stages of fire, the firies are there to tell you to go another way that is safe but it still helps to know what you are going to do.

 

If you have elderly family in the area, talk to them ahead of time. They are not as fast and agile and can get very scared and panicked. It is important to talk to them about all of these things to if they have no plans of their own that ensure their safety.

 

Last but not least, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, remember this. Staying behind to hose your home with one small hose, is not going to do a single thing to save your house. I understand that your house is so very important to you and there are reasons to want to save it. Your life is so much more important and a house can be rebuilt.

 

You cannot be replaced. What is the point to stay behind to save your house when you will not be around to enjoy it. Please understand Australian blazing bushfires pack so much heat that it could singe your hair before it has even touched any part of your body. It can ravage your entire house in a matter of minutes. Please take all the advice above and value your life, more than your house.

12 REPLIES 12

Re: From a former firefighter's perspective.

Thank you for this excellent article, @Powderfinger .

Re: From a former firefighter's perspective.

@Powderfinger 

I'm so very grateful for your post and article!!

I always get a bag ready... heavy, natural fibre clothing and boots. Water. A torch & batteries. A small radio. Food. And have things ready for my animals. 

I watch the emergency app and make sure, if I'm leaving that I leave EARLY! The roads can get bottlenecked quickly with people leaving at the last minute and emergency vehicles entering the area... I don't want to be one more thing to worry about in an already extremely difficult situation. 

Your article is very timely and I'm really grateful that you have written it and are prepared to do it every year! Thank you so much! 

I'm a cleaner and clean for the CFA... it's frightening when the building is frantic and the first thing someone says to you is "Our guys are getting hammered out there"

JUST LEAVE EARLY! 

 

Re: From a former firefighter's perspective.

Well said @Powderfinger.

I've spoken to a lot of people and a lot of firefighters as a writer who covered and experienced the fires . . . and so many of them said things like: I'd been preparing for weeks. I thought I was prepared.

Even people who'd been in previous bushfires, people who did all the things your supposed to--and even one guy who made his own fire truck . . . they underestimated these fires.

And that's when they're deadly.

I wish more of the things you spoke about were taught more widely. I'd love to share your words with my community.

Re: From a former firefighter's perspective.

@NatureLover my pleasure. Thank you for appreciating it. 

Re: From a former firefighter's perspective.

@Shazi55 

 

Thank you for loving and appreciating my article. It means a lot to me. I'm so glad you have those preparations in place for yourself. It means you are saving your life which is more precious than anything else. Yes, thus is my first year of doing it and it will be a yearly project I continue to do around this time of year. 

 

You have seen first hand how firefighters get so slammed. I did so much training. That is a huge part of what we do. Our training. We service the vehicles constantly. Making sure our hoses have no rips and tears in them. Doing hose excercises. Rolling them out, connecting them to the truck, hustle hustle hustle, fast as you can go, get into your positions and so on. People have no idea how much training and study we do. The hours we put in at the station and into the CFS. We become a family because we work so closely and what we do is a labor of love. 

 

We do light all types of fires and do practice runs. We go out to emergency fires if we are called. Believe me, I'm not complaining. I loved what I did. I loved being part of it. I still miss it. I have kept my fire uniform. I can never get rid of it. I just can't part with it. 

 

You can only ever be as prepared as you can be. Each fire you go out to teaches you something new. I never have and never will underestimate fire. I want to cry sometimes every year. I want to be out there. My heart breaks. This is my way of doing something still. 

Re: From a former firefighter's perspective.

@YouAreNotAlone 

 

Every year the fires are different. Every year new reports are made. Fire is not predictable. It never has been. SCO MO was an idiot last year to not LISTEN to the early warnings that were given. I don't give a hoot about the government. I've never had any faith or trust in them ever and that will never change. 

 

The best folk to listen to are the ones who are trained and DO KNOW what they are talking about. They will tell the truth always. We have that in common, we are both writers. 

 

If you like, you may share the content of my article only with your community. Please cite my work as the author. The rest of my post besides the article, please keep here. The article us public so I am ok with it being shared, as long as it is cited and not reproduced in any way. 

 

Ramble. 

Re: From a former firefighter's perspective.

@YouAreNotAlone I forgot we do not use our real names on here haha. Impossible to cite myself as the author in this case. @nashy is anything able to be done in regards to that. I am referring to @YouAreNotAlone desire to share my article amongst her community? 

 

Cheers

 

Ramble

Re: From a former firefighter's perspective.

@Powderfinger

I completely agree. Last year was my first bushfire experience, and boy did it show me a lot of things wrong with the system.

And all good!!! I forgot about that anonymous part too; whoops! I personally am fine for people to know who I am so it doesn't really bother me, but I know that obviously goes against the whole point of being anon haha.

I was going to say I'd just post this link as an option!

Re: From a former firefighter's perspective.

Hey @YouAreNotAlone and @Powderfinger  - yes your best bet is to link to the post directly since the forums are public Smiley Very Happy 

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