Prepare now to survive the bush fire season

The author with long-time RFS volunteer Stuart Frost and others.You can’t live in Australia and not realise that fire presents itself as a very real threat to our environment. 

Lucky for us The Rural Fire Service (RFS) do an amazing job of responding to bushfires, but of course it has to be a community effort to prevent or help fight a bushfire, so the more prepared you and your family are, the better.

The fire season in NSW has come early this year and sadly it’s predicted to be a bad one.  

October saw a number of large fires along the NSW central coast and over 200 firefighters were needed to control them.  

In preparation for our Native Wildlife campaign I attended a basic bushfire awareness training.

The course was run by long-time RFS volunteer Stuart Frost (aptly named!) who gave us a brilliant engaging introduction to bush fires.

I thought I’d share 10 facts from the course:

  1. Embers can travel up to 20km from the main fire to create ‘spot’ fires – which in then turn into large fires in themselves – so you really need to be aware of wind changes.
  2. One of the main hazards to wildlife and rescuers is falling trees - Gum trees are particularly flammable and can turn into exploding fire balls.
  3. Fire can actually travel underground – seriously! It travels through the roots of trees and can pop up suddenly in an unburned area.
  4. In 60 minutes, RFS helicopters can drop 9,000 litres of water, but they require 2,000 litres of fuel every hour to do so.
  5. A grass fire takes 15 seconds to pass, whereas a forest fire takes 15 minutes
  6. It’s not just injuries that make native wildlife vulnerable during a bushfire, but also the after effects - reduced food and shelter are life threatening.
  7. An injured native animal should be treated by a local carer or vet immediately.  So if you find an injured animal please contact a professional for advice - don’t try to treat on your own – you may kill it with kindness. 
  8. You can provide water for wildlife but remember to place a stick or rock in the container to prevent small animals from being trapped or drowning in deep containers
  9. The RFS is the largest volunteer organisation in the world – it has 70,000 volunteers who tirelessly help across the board – not just in fighting fires but providing essential support with ccommunications, catering, logistics, planning and aviation.
  10. Everyday Australian’s are the eyes and ears of the RFS. So, if you see a fire report it – don’t assume the RFS know about it – they would rather have 20 calls about one fire than none!

--JS

To find out more about volunteering for the RFS, visit their website here.

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