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Hastings image reaches 75,000
The major fire in Hastings on Saturday 3 January 2015 had local residents rushing online for local information.
The Hastings Fire Brigade website had some 3,300 visits in less than 24 hours. "The site nearly didn’t cope with the number of people in such a short period of time," said Hastings firefighter Douglas Evans.
"Our monthly bandwidth amount was almost used up in a day. Fortunately, we have an excellent web-host who was on top of things. They got in touch with us about it and gave us some extra bandwidth."
All incident information on the brigade website links back to the official CFA warnings page, however "if you have a major fire in your area and you run a brigade website, it’s likely it will get hammered. It pays to have plenty of bandwidth," Doug said.
Over 300 new likes were received on the Hastings Volunteer Fire Brigade Facebook page on the day. An aerial photo taken by local pilot Ellie Tesselaar was posted the next day. Incredibly, more than 640 Facebook users have since shared the photo with their friends, eventually reaching some 75,000 people online.
Doug remarked that “whilst it’s frustrating that it takes a serious event like this for the messages to be taken seriously, at least people seemed to take notice of what was happening on the day. Hopefully it’s a close-to-home warning for the broader community to think about what they would do before and during that situation.”
The statistics on the Cranbourne Fire Brigade Facebook page would suggest it was a wake-up call. Cranbourne is 25 kilometres from Hastings, yet had over 400 new likes for its brigade Facebook page since the Hastings fire on 3 January.
For Hastings, it has sparked some further thinking about managing this situation in the future. "On a day like that, the main CFA Facebook page is flat out and the warnings or messages relevant to your community can potentially get lost in the flood of posts on that page." Doug said.
"If the local brigade were to share the relevant posts, it could just help the message stand out to the people who need to see it most. Not to create mixed messages at all, just sharing the same relevant local content and referring people back to the official channels or further information."
In the Hastings case, all three administrators who post to the brigade Facebook page were out on the job on the same truck. "We weren’t able to do it during this fire but it’s something we will bring up within the brigade in the future."