“Bushfire Ready” workshop at Paskeville

“Bushfire Ready” workshop at Paskeville

23 October 2009

published by www.ypct.com.au

Australia —

Paskeville CFS brigade is presenting a workshop, mainly for rural women, at the Paskeville Community Centre on October 29.

CFS Community Education Officer Geoff Ayres says the “Bushfire Ready” workshops emanated from the aftermath of the Wangary bushfire near Port Lincoln in January 2005.

“That fire was a stark and tragic reminder of how communities like ours can be quickly overrun by a bushfire in our sort of country.”

Nine people perished in the fire — three women, four children and two firefighters on a private fire unit. Of the seven women and children, six were fleeing the fire in their cars.

“The good news is fires can be survived, but only if we plan and prepare for them in advance.

“Studies from Bushfire CRC Research showed that women tended to be left to defend their homes and families while men were out fighting the fire.

“This study was the instrument in getting this program underway, and the workshop is specifically designed to help rural women to develop an effective bushfire survival plan.

“We are trying to generate awareness and concern, as the topography on the peninsula could lend itself to a repeat of what happened on Eyre Peninsula if we have a catastrophic day.”

Bushfire CRC Research findings

Over two months, in 2006, 38 open ended interviews were conducted across the fire ravaged areas of EP.  Themes addressed were family responses and experiences packing the car, the role of pets and livestock in decision making, impacts of the bushfire, sense of place and connectedness to the land, and spirituality. Some of these showed:

Heavy reliance on volunteer firefighters (the majority of whom are men) translates to a burden on the families of these, in particular women alone with children during a bushfire.

Some women (including those who had access to firefighting resources) remarked on their lack of knowledge and skills in relation to defending their home, and expressed a desire to learn.

In several families it was assumed the man would be present.

There has been little recognition of the emotional attachment people have to their homes, possessions, domestic pets or livestock and how this influences people’s behaviour and responses before and during a bushfire.

This study provides evidence-based research that supports the need to rethink the Prepare, Stay and Defend or Leave Early policy.

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