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Victorian Fires in the Media – No Apologies for the Long Story

By March 8, 2019News

There has been a great deal of criticism of our colleagues in Victoria in both main stream and social media as the fires in large parts of that state have devastated communities.  It is difficult for people who are not members of a firefighting service to know just how personally firefighters (both volunteer and career) take the loss of a single building – and how hard they will work to ensure this doesn’t happen.

There are currently two posts on Facebook that show a different side to these stories.  The first is by a volunteer firefighter and also has photos from the Bunyip fire, showing houses that were saved from the flames – you can hear his frustration in almost every line.  This is his post (in his words):

“Just back from the Bunyip fire in the Tonimbuk Sector of the fire.  It is unlikely you will see these homes in the papers or on the news.  For some reason the media prefers to show the small number of buildings lost to the fire.  However homes such as the ones shown here are well and truely in the majority on the fireground at Bunyip.  Some have been defended by vollunteers and staff of the CFA.  Some had MFESB or Forest Fire Managment staff protecting them.  A few, were guarded by home owners who fought hard to save their own property.

It is likely some were saved by a well placed drop from a firefighting helicopter.  Many are probably still standing due to sheer luck.  Most though are still intact due to a combination of all of the above..

All of these buildings below have one thing in common, the property owners had spent time to prepare for the potential of bush fire.  Cleaning up, cutting back vegetation, clearing gutters of debris, watering the surrounding gardens to create a safe zone, ensuring driveways are accessable to fire trucks and having dedicated fire fighting water supplies on site.

The fire services have copped some bad press in the last few days, accused of not trying to save some homes.

I’ll be blunt, if you don’t attempt to prepare your property for the event of bushfire and allow years of overgrowth to build up making it unsafe for crews to defend, don’t expect a fire crew to chose to turn up your drive and fight to save your home and their own lives.

Feel free to share as the owners may not yet know that their home is still intact.

The second is from a female firefighter who has obviously reached her limits – it is a sobering and at times emotional read:

“I’VE BEEN HEARING WHERE WAS HELP.

Let me tell you…. Help was working all day Friday and on the way home dropped their child off to family members to get on a truck and respond to save yours. Help was on the fire ground at 1700 on Friday and home 2200 on Monday night. Help was surround by fire, feeling the intense heat while everyone escaped. Help was holding a lady as she was screaming because fire was everywhere and she couldn’t reach her husband. Help was fighting fires while so stressed as her team mates where surrounded by fire with no escape and she couldn’t contact them by radio. Help was stopping and collecting pets that had been hurt and burnt and finding them help while still trying to protect your property. Help was trying not to cry as she listen to the radio to a tree falling on a truck not knowing if anyone was hurt..

Help was being screamed at by people for not being at their house when she was evacuating an elderly couple who had no means of transport to escape because in your eyes help should of been in 10 places at once.. While help was protecting your property, saving your animals, not eating or sleeping, listening to her friends being trapped while trying to help, keeping track of nearly 100 firefighters, not having a toilet to use, growing blisters on her feet, cuts on her legs, bitten by bugs and burnt by fire, and not being paid a single cent to risk her life, Helps family and friends were at home praying she was safe and will return to them.

So again where was your help- I was out there trying my hardest. #cfa #volunteers #firefighters”