Springdale Heights residents get 'Bushfire Ready'

Published: Friday, 8 March 2019 at 1:15:49 PM

Following the fires of May 2018 which raged across the Great Southern, residents from within the Springdale Heights subdivision in Denmark took the initiative to form a Bushfire Ready group for their neighbourhood - with the group’s emergency plan tested in a real-life bushfire situation for the first time last month.

Bushfire Ready, a community-driven program supported by Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Shire of Denmark and volunteer fire brigades, aims to increase community resilience to bushfire threat through encouraging local residents to work together to prepare and protect their families and properties.

Neighbours are encouraged to network, share ideas and information and develop and implement strategies to reduce their bushfire risk.

Springdale Heights resident Karen Burford, who belonged to a similar group in the eastern states after being impacted by fire, said the group brought the subdivision’s community closer together and that they all had a sense of responsibility for looking out for each other.

"Since Bushfire ready started I have got to know most of the people in the subdivision. The recent fire was the first time our ‘phone tree’ system was tested in real life. The system involves four coordinators calling each other to activate the phone tree, then each calls their designated households. Around 50% of residents received a call despite some coordinators being away. I am so proud of what the Springdale community has achieved so far."

Resident Niall Weatherstone said the Springdale Heights community feels more prepared for bushfire since the group formed, and emphasised it is each individual’s responsibility to take control of their own safety by having an emergency plan.

‘’You can’t make a perfect system because it depends on the fire and weather conditions on the day. However, I feel we are more prepared since we started the group. Bushfire Ready is all about being proactive rather than reactive. It’s every individual’s responsibility to make and enact their bushfire survival plan. Whatever your personal situation – and our residents range from young children to elderly and disabled – it’s good to know that your neighbours are there to help if needed,”he said.

Bushfire Ready groups are supported by the Shire’s Manager Community Services Mr David Schober, Community Emergency Services Manager Mr Scott Medhurst, and Bushfire Risk Planning Coordinator Ms Melanie Haymont.

Ms Haymont said meaningful collaboration with the community has empowered people to take action in becoming more prepared and confident in the face of a bushfire threat.

"The Shire is dedicated to collaborating with the community and neighbourhoods to help them establish their own Bushfire Ready groups. We see this as one of the keys to the success of our Bushfire Risk Mitigation program and fosters a greater sense of safety in our community.

In a dangerous bushfire, a fire truck will not be available to protect every home. This means residents and homeowners need to be responsible for their own safety.

The Springdale Heights Bushfire Ready group when threatened with a bushfire in February, activated their ‘phone tree’ system to alert others to the emergency and put their action plans into place. The group is an outstanding example of how residents can take decisive action when under threat of fire through their Bushfire Ready plans," she said.

Residents can contact the Community Services team on 9848 0300 at the Shire of Denmark for more information on forming a Bushfire Ready group for their neighbourhood.

Shire of Denmark Bushfire Risk Planning Coordinator Ms Melanie Haymont facilitating a Bushfire Ready workshop for the Denmark community in 2018.

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