What a century of bushfire data teaches us about how to save lives this summer
A summary of an article on Story Lab by Catherine Hanrahan 27 December 2018.
What can we learn about saving lives from studying more than a century of bushfires?
A lot — but experts warn too many Australians still do not properly understand the risks and new research suggests nine in 10 Victorians in high risk areas would not follow the prevailing advice to leave early on days of high fire danger.
Most lives have been lost on a few horror days — and in one state
Between 1901 and 2011, 825 people lost their lives in more than 260 bushfires. Of those killed, 92 were firefighters.
More than 80 per cent of the deaths were in January and February, and 61 per cent happened in Victoria.
Majority of deaths from bushfires were in Victoria
Total bushfire fatalities by State between 1901 and 2011
ACT 5 Qld 25 NSW 139
NT 5 SA 57 VIC 506
WA 20 TAS 68
Most bushfire deaths happened on just 9 days
Civilian fatalities on nine major fire days
14/2/1926 31 VIC 7/2/1967 64 TAS
10/1/1939 19 VIC 8/1/1969 20 VIC
13/1/1939 47 VIC 16/2/1983 27 SA
14/1/1944 35 VIC 16/2/1983 46 VIC
14/2/1944 13 VIC 7/2/2009 173 VIC
Even more strikingly, 65 per cent of all the people killed in bushfires across that 110-year period died on just nine days, including Black Saturday in 2009 when 173 people died in Australia's worst natural disaster. The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission looked at the circumstances of how 173 people died on Black Saturday. Its analysis found that while most people were aware they were at risk, 24 per cent did not even have a basic awareness they were in danger of bushfires.
Near the bush equals high risk
The closer your home is to the bush, the more at risk you are. The CSIRO's life and loss database analysis of 110 years of deaths in bushfires, found that:
50 per cent of deaths happened within 10 metres of a forest,
78 per cent happened within 30 metres of a forest, and
85 per cent happened within 100 metres of a forest.
The definition of a forest is bushland covering more than 0.2 hectares — that's about the size of four house blocks.
This finding may seem obvious but not everyone is aware of how stark that relationship is.
To read the fill article, please visit: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-27/bushfire-history-australia-data-saving-lives/10606144 .
Fire Season 2018/2019 - Key Messages
Shoreham is a "high risk bushfire area"
Right now, forecasts show that there is potential for an earlier and longer fire season in Victoria
It is time to increase your understanding of the fire risk where you live, prepare your property, and talk to your loved ones about what you’ll do to stay safe from fire
Making informed decisions is vital to your safety during a fire. Now is the best time to understand your fire risk and get prepared
Talk to your family, friends and neighbours about the fire risk where you live and make plans for what you’ll do on hot, dry, windy days
Make sure you know where to check Fire Danger Ratings (Vic Emergency website and app). Over summer, you’ll need to check the ratings daily to understand the fire risk in your area. Remember, as ratings increase, so does your risk of fire
It’s up to all of us to stay informed by using more than one source of information, understanding the three levels of warnings, what they mean and what you should do
Tune in to ABC local radio, commercial and designated community radio stations or Sky News TV, phone the VicEmergency Hotline (1800 226 226), visit emergency.vic.gov.au, and download the VicEmergency App. Warnings are also available on VicEmergency's Twitter (@vicemergency) and Facebook (facebook.com/vicemergency), and CFA’s Twitter (@CFA_Updates) and Facebook (facebook.com/cfavic)
On hot, dry, windy days, fires will start and spread quickly. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to leave early If you live in an urban area near grasslands, walk at least two streets back if a fire starts.
If you live two or three streets away from grassland and a grassfire starts, stay where you are. Grassfires are unlikely to spread into built up areas. Don’t drive, visibility may be poor, accidents are likely, and you could block emergency services.
In the lead-up to summer, CFA and MFB brigades around the state are getting out and about in their community to talk about preparing for fire season. You can check cfa.vic.gov.au/events for information on what’s happening in your local area
For more information on how to get prepared for summer, go to emergency.vic.gov.au,
Planning and preparation messages
Taking steps to get prepared before the fire season means you know what to do when you’re at risk . It’s important to prepare your property for fire, but you also need to plan and prepare for your safety. Pack important documents, photos, medications, money and clothes so you can leave easily before a fire starts
Understand your risk and plan ahead. Know what to do on hot, dry, windy days and plan for all situations. Talk to your family and friends about how you’ll know when to leave, where you’ll go and how you’ll get there
Do you have family, friends or neighbours who may need help preparing for fires? Talk to them about when they will leave, where they will go and how you can help
Have a plan, make sure your family knows it, and stick to it, don’t hesitate when it’s time to leave. You could get trapped by fire if you leave too late
Plan for all scenarios – what will you do if your car won’t start, the wind changes direction, roads are blocked, someone is hurt or people aren’t where you expect them to be?
When planning with kids, make sure you know your local school policy for fire risk days. Some schools close on Code Red days, it’s important to know so you can plan for all situations.
You could be at serious risk of uncontrollable fires on Severe, Extreme and Code Red days. It’s up to each of us to stay informed. Check the Fire Danger Ratings daily and act to protect yourself and your family
Prevention is everyone’s responsibility. Early action can prevent fires threatening lives and property. If you see smoke or fire, call Triple Zero (‘000’) immediately. If you see something suspicious, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000
Preparing your property means you minimise the chance of property damage during a fire, even if you plan to leave early
Keep trees, overhanging branches and shrubs to a minimum near your home, particularly around and under windows. A big clean up before the fire season can make a huge difference to the safety and survival of your home in a bushfire
Embers are one of the most common causes of homes burning down during a bushfire, even if the fire front doesn’t reach the property. Check where leaves and twigs gather around your home as this is where embers are likely to fall. Keep these areas clear all summer
Before you leave, make sure you remove all flammable items from around your home. Houses have been lost from things as simple as embers landing on a doormat
Keep leaf litter, shrubs and any other fuels to a minimum under trees on your property. This will help to stop a fire from reaching the tree tops, which will reduce embers and the fire intensity near your home
Defending your home requires at least two fit adults, at least 10,000 litres of water, protective clothing, and appropriate firefighting hoses and pumps. Most homes in high risk bushfire areas are not defendable on Code Red days. Defending your home is very risky – you could lose your life or be seriously injured
For information on how to stay safe this summer, visit emergency.vic.gov.au, or ring the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 Check that your home and contents insurance is current and includes a level of cover in line with current building standards and regulations. Changes in those building standards and regulations mean that replacement homes must be built to better withstand natural disasters, which can add to the cost of rebuilding.
Further information available at Shoreham
The Shire's brochure is available in the Post Office,
The CFA's education trailer at the Shoreham Community BBQ.
You can talk to firefighters at the fire station 9-10 on Sundays.
You can download the material above as a PDF document.
Shoreham Rural Fire Brigade - Current Roles (2018/2019)
The Shoreham Rural Fire Brigade has been operational since 1949.
Biennial Elections were conducted on 14/6/2018 - members were nominated and elected to the following key roles:
Captain - Tony WAIN (Re-elected)
1st. Lieutenant - Alan MACHIN (Re-elected)
2nd. Lieutenant - Rob. PATRICK
3rd. Lieutenant - Dani HULYER
Training Co-ordinator- Alan MACHIN
Equipment/Asset Officer - Mike WILDING (Re-elected)
Communications Officer - Sue WILDING (Re-elected)
Community Safety Co-ordinator - Rob. PATRICK (Re-elected)
Health & Safety Officer - Dani HULYER (Re-elected)
Secretary/Treasurer - To be filled ***
Minute Secretary - Sue WILDING
Group Delegate - Tony Wain
VFBV Delegate - Sue WILDING
President - Brian ALCOCK (Re-elected)
*** John Lorkin, a well known community member, has been a member of the Brigade for almost 20 years during which he has held the important roles of either Secretary or Secretary / Treasurer. John did not seek re-election on this occasion. His commitment and dedication to the Brigade’s operations during the 20 years, in the above roles in particular, has been outstanding.
Invitation to join the Shoreham Rural Fire Brigade
The Brigade is seeking 4 – 6 new firefighters, male or female.
The Brigade needs active firefighters in the 30 – 45 age group.
This important addition would assist greatly to correct the current age imbalance with an increasing number in the 60+ age group. At present, there is a serious problem looking to the near future about our effective operational viability to respond to fires to protect community members and their properties.
Any interested community members in the above age group are most welcome to contact:
Tony Wain on 0407 557 292, Rob Patrick on 0408 429 944 or John Lorkin on 0490 519 001.
Alternatively they would be most welcome to visit the Station on any Sunday between 9 and 10am to discuss the requirements of volunteering and to inspect the station.
Open Air Burning 2018
Mornington Peninsula Shire's Open Air Burning Local Law regulates burning off outside of the Declared Fire Danger Period. As per previous years, restrictions were eased during the month of October, 2018 to enable landowners on smaller properties to burn off for fire prevention purposes.
For October 2018 only, Open Air Burning was permitted on Fridays and Saturdays between 9:00am and 4:00pm on land less than 1,500 square metres, provided that:
No more than 1 cubic metre of vegetation was burnt at any one time
The fire was not within 10 metres of any neighbouring dwelling
The General Fire Safety Provisions were followed at all times.
Open Air Burning regulations for land more than 1,500 square metres and more than 40,000 square metres remain the same.
Please click here for the Shire’s flyer.
Fires over Summer 2017/18
The critical summer period was below the concerns anticipated at the start of the fire season. The level of “turn outs” in the Shoreham area was minimal.
However, the brigade supported other brigades at the following fires:
In January, a major fire at Carrum Downs and Skye. Our crew manned our “big fill” pump for over 7 hours to provide water to tankers fighting the extreme fire.
In January, a serious grass/scrub fire in the industrial estate in Cemetery Road, Hastings.
In February, a major fire at “Ten Minutes by Tractor” restaurant in Main Ridge which destroyed the adjoining warehouse containing stock of valuable wine, vintage tractors and other stock valued at $500,000. The damaged asbestos cladding was a major environmental, health and safety issue. The fire took in excess of 2 hours to bring under control; 12 tankers and 60 volunteers attended.
In February, a grass/scrub fire in Paringa Road, Red Hill.
Community use of the fire station
In 2017/8, the fire station was the venue for
a 40th birthday party
SCA committee meetings
SCA’s “Morning Cuppa”
SCA-sponsored Tai Chi classes
Shoreham-Flinders Bee Group meetings
a carers group meetings.
Community members are welcome to use the Station facilities. Contact Rob Patrick on 0408 429 944. Brigade approval must be obtained and some conditions apply, notably the need to arrange Public Liability Insurance. Please allow at least a month beforehand.
In an emergency call 000 (zero, zero, zero)
For written correspondence and donations please contact:
Shoreham Rural Fire Brigade,
PO Box 283,
Shoreham VIC 3916
For telephone contact please ring 0490 519 001
What Number Are You? ...and how would anyone else know?
You call the CFA or other emergency service, give your street and house number, but valuable time is wasted if your house does not have a clearly visible house number. The CFA requires all residents to put their house number on their house or fence for identification.
CFA Fire Ready Kit and FireReady app
The Fire Ready Kit has been designed to help you understand your risk, prepare your property and develop a bushfire plan. It can be downloaded at http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/
You can find information about the CFA's FireReady app and how to download it here.
The photo gallery at right shows some interesting photographs highlighting our work in recent years.