Sentinel-Times editorial comment
THE experience of ‘Ash Wednesday’ in February 1983, when 2545 people lost their homes and there were 75 fatalities in Victorian and South Australia was that well-prepared residents could stay and defend their homes.
All that changed after ‘Black Saturday’ in 2009 when 180 people died and 2029 homes were lost.
The message became “make a plan and leave early”.
But according to CFA Chief Officer, Steve Warrington, the world has changed again, and the community needs to understand that.
Speaking to country newspaper representatives recently he said conditions in Australia today were starkly different to what they were in 1983 and people needed to understand that fires can’t be stopped.
“The fire season is longer and more intense. It’s starkly different to 1983. We cannot stop fires. Just have a chat to your family and decide what you are going to do. People need to understand, in 1983 that you could wait and be told to leave but now you can’t do that. If you don’t leave you will die.”
He told the media that we’re living in the worst fire prone area in the world and if the journalists understood the message they could help deliver the message.
“If you are living in Bass Coast, for example, you are living in one of the worst fire prone areas in the world and you need to take action yourself in the event of fire. People have got realise they have to take responsibility for it themselves.”
Mr Warrington asked the media to point people to the Vic Emergency Website where they can get the app and all the information they need. He also urged the media to put a fire message alert on their own sites.
But the message this summer is clear, and we intend to hammer it: The responsibility to leave is now yours. Don’t expect to be told when to leave and don’t expect help to arrive.
What are you going to do when fire threatens?