Australia — A dozen ladies gathered at the Cobargo Fire Shed recently for the Bega Valleys first Womens Fire Awareness Workshop.
Fire mitigation officer Garry Cooper and community safety assistant Robin Philp have been aware that when talk turns to bushfire, it seems to become mens business.
However, it is often women who are at home during the day, sometimes without a car, looking after children or elderly relatives and they have been left out of the loop when it comes to being prepared for a bushfire.
The workshop was designed to break down some barriers and give women the tools they need to make plans and decisions when a serious fire turns up in their neighbourhood.
Women do not have to be fire fighters – they just need to know what needs to be done.
Robyn Reynolds, who is a long term member of the Pambula Rural Fire Service Brigade, opened the workshop by sharing her experiences as a women fire fighter and was able to give the ladies plenty of practical advice.
The workshop covered topics such as what equipment might be needed, appropriate clothing, how to manage the fire pump, preparation and on going maintenance of the home and importantly, establishing neighbourhood networks and where to get reliable information during a fire event.
The men were on hand to cook the lunch; the food was great and they also helped with some practical demonstrations with fire and equipment.
Follow up neighbourhood meetings have been requested by the ladies so that planning and sharing local knowledge can continue.
Community safety assistants will carry out home inspections where requested and help set up a local networks.
With information and continued support these women will be able to prepare for the fire season with a well thought out Bush Fire Survival Plan and be confident about making the right decisions for their family and their home.
Women across the Bega Valley are encouraged to get in touch with Bega Fire Control if they would like a workshop in their neighbourhood.