Australia — Prominent volunteer firefighter Val Jeffrey has welcomed the inclusion of the controversial ‘stay and fight’ option in the latest ACT fire plan.
The ACT Government released the final draft of the ACT Strategic Bushfire Management Plan yesterday.
Mr Jeffrey believes the plan will encourage people to think about their preparations for the bushfire season, including fuel reduction and emergency arrangements.
The ‘stay and fight ‘ advice was questioned after 173 lives were lost in rural areas during the Black Saturday fires in Victoria.
However Tharwa Bushfire Captain Val Jeffrey says the ‘stay and fight’ policy can work for Canberra residents who live in urban areas identified as ember risk zones.
“The people must do their housework and their homework well and truly beforehand and make the decisions beforehand whether to stay or leave, and decide to leave early and not make last-minute decisions,” he said. “It’s a very important part of bushfire strategy.”
He says people who live in the ‘bush capital’ need to recognise bushfire is a risk every year.
“They should think about their gardens, the fuel around their houses, all that sort of thing and look at how vulnerable they are,” he said.
“If they recognise and realise they could get an ember drop in their backyard, they at least should be well prepared for it.”
In January 2003, fires that started in the Brindabella and Namadgi national parks swept into the ACT, killing four people and destroying almost 500 homes.
Canberrans have until September 25 to comment on the plan.