Here’s a wonderful article from our friends at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and is a great reminder that despite the way it is often presented, effective bushfire mitigation involves much more than just planned (prescribed) burning.
Even though the government has just raised the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) by around 10% with most of that money going to administrative work in “mitigation planning”, the incredible 26,000 women and men of WA’s Volunteer Bush Fire Service continue to do – and have always done – a lot more than that to keep their communities safe.
And that is the real value of WA’s network of 570+ locally managed Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades. Our members are not only closer to rural fires enabling them to make sure small incidents never become big ones, but also live where they donate their invaluable skills and time. That means many of WA’s smallest and most remote towns have the benefit of local people being willing and able to roll up their sleeves before, during and after dangerous incidents visit. In reality, that means many thousands of hours of expert advice and oversight being donated to the prevention of fires and protection of rural communities.
This is why the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) is such a strong advocate for a rural fire service that maintains the diversity of our current system, rather than other models that propose replacing volunteers with career staff in less, larger brigades.
To us, this is the very definition of resilience at community level and a fundamental component necessary for small towns to survive and thrive.
A neighborhood from Forked River New Jersey shared with us how they helped other neighbors reduce their risk of loss due to wildfires. This Firewise USA ® site used their Wildfire Community Preparedness Day funding to expand their influence and share their knowledge about wildfire safety with residents living in a new housing development located close to them, who were not familiar with wildfire safety. A portion of their project work included outreach to new residents who had no knowledge about how to make their communities safer from wildfire.
According to Andrew Castellani, “We had a very successful event that spanned three days, May 4th, 5th and 6th. We had about 15 council participants that made contact with 110 residential homes and engaged them with information about Firewise USA ® and the Ready, Set, Go program. On Monday the 7th our public works department picked up roughly 17 dump trucks worth of cleared trees, slag, pine brush, and various other combustible brush.”
This community is not only making a difference in their own neighborhood’s wildfire safety but are mentoring and assisting other neighbors to help them be able to do the same!