As a nation who celebrates “droughts and flooding rains” it is odd that we are so resistant to accepting the persistence of bushfires at the urban interface.
Bushfires are a part of Australian environment. Not all bushfires are controllable and for fires that burn on blow up days, there is often little that can be done to put them out.
However, their inevitability does not equate with admitting defeat in the face of overwhelming odds. It does require sound risk management and integration of a range of measures to reduce their impact and to respond in the most appropriate manner.
Communities need to be resilient from bushfire impact. Yet, this often requires skills that the community does not posses. The threat of bushfire is not omnipresent and other issues and the daily grind of our lives take precedence. How then are communities to understand their risk and to take action?
Action, varies from household to household and depends on a range of factors such as:
- Preparation of the house and surrounds;
- Experience and fitness of people; and
- Threat – the fuel and topography mixed with anticipated weather.
Living in bushfire prone areas is a challenge but possible
Each family will view these issues differently. However, the bottom line remains – the safest option for people is to be away from bushfire prone areas on blow up days. The challenge is that people make informed decisions about their exposure based on the underlying premise that bushfires are a part of Australian life.
While physical assets may be impacted and lost, there should be no reason why people are caught unawares. Advances in warnings, weather forecasting and integrated approaches to managing fires should facilitate communities making informed decisions to protect their lives.