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Community exercises get locals thinking
During November and December 2015, more than 250 residents took part in community bushfire exercises at Mirboo North, Noojee and Erica fire stations.
By Ellisa Bourne
These sessions aimed to give residents the tools to help them prepare their properties and themselves for the threat of bushfire, and empower them to take responsibility for their bushfire plan. A well-prepared community member will recover better than a resident who has done little preparation.
Mirboo North Community Safety Coordinator Mark Kennedy said most people found out about their event through Mirboo North brigade’s Facebook Page and the message board the District placed in the main street.
“We’ve never used these methods before, but they were very successful,” Mark said.
Topics covered were fire behavior, Fire Danger Ratings, warnings and advice, local fire history and the importance and content of a bushfire plan. A burn table was also used to show fire behaviour and local topography.
An interactive part of the day that worked well was a session about simulated fire scenarios in local areas. Residents looked at large aerial maps and were able to pinpoint where they lived. Using the maps, residents were encouraged to discuss which direction a fire might come from, what local conditions may be like and what actions and plans need to be considered.
Residents worked in small groups with a brigade member to test their plans and talk about what they would do.
“The most successful part of the day was seeing how many people really started thinking about being prepared,” said Mark. “We’ve run things in the past and never got more than 10 at the station, so to engage around 75 residents was fantastic.”
Local police and members of DELWP were also on hand to answer any questions.
One resident commented that they’d lived in Noojee for 14 years, experienced the effects of the 2009 fires, but still didn’t have a bushfire survival plan. After the exercise they planned to assess their property and have a family discussion to formalise their plan.
Another local resident said, “It was great to get people thinking about personal responsibility. Meetings like this make you realise how real it is.”
Photos by Steve Corrigan