Snuggled up in front of the fire, listening to the wind and rain outside, it’s hard to imagine 40 degrees, a 30 knot northerly wind and a tinder dry, parched landscape. Yet in only a few short months that is what we can expect.
An Emergency Preparedness Committee has been established on Raymond Island to consider ways to keep islanders safer in times of fire or flood. This committee is working closely with the CFA, the East Gippsland Shire and other agencies to share information, develop plans and identify initiatives that our community can undertake.
This section of the Raymond Island Community Website offers information, practical ideas and links to relevant websites to help residents and visitors take sensible precautions in the lead-up to the bushfire season.
Please feel free to contact any member of the Emergency Preparedness Committee with any comments, contributions or questions.
We aren’t experts, but we will do our best to find the information people want from the most appropriate source.
The Committee members are: (to be completed if additional people are interested in becoming part of the committee. Members to confirm whether they want their phone numbers listed)
Existing committee members are:
Robyn Brown John Fisher Jack Holbrook 0417 573 279 Jill Johannsen 5156 6851 Kate McKinnon 0417 399 530 Jack Pearce 5156 6480 Sophie Nolan Charlie Murray David Prasad Norris May
The Bushfire Preparation Committee was formed in 2009, in the wake of the Black Saturday bushfires. The terrible events of 7th February 2009 were a wake-up call to all Victorians. We realized that a degree of complacency had crept into our community, as it is many years since the Island experienced, or was even threatened by, a serious bushfire. We were also reminded of our dependence on the ferry, and our vulnerability if this service was unavailable. On 7th February, our ferry actually broke down because of the extreme heat. It was obvious that whilst the likelihood of a major fire on the island is not very high, in a worst-case scenario the consequences could be catastrophic. Some facts about Raymond Island: · There are large areas of native vegetation throughout the Island, including many dead gum trees, and a lot of bracken. · The median age of Raymond Islanders is 61 years, with about 66% of residents aged 55 or older. · We have to rely on the ferry to get us off the island, or to get emergency vehicles onto the island.
The combination of high fuel load, limited access and a relatively old population presents some challenges in making the community bushfire ready. Aims of the Bushfire Preparation Committee
· Increase awareness of the risk of bushfires and the need for everyone to develop a fire plan · Build mutually supportive relationships with the local CFA and the Municipal Emergency Managers · Provide practical suggestions on simple steps to help reduce the risk of bushfire, and to make people safer in the event of bushfire · Work with the ferry operator to assist people to leave early, and to plan for an orderly evacuation if necessary · Ensure that visitors to the island understood the risks and implications of a bushfire on the Island
Activities and achievements during 2009/2010
Increasing awareness of the risk of bushfires and the need for everyone to develop a fire plan · A community meeting was organized with representation from the CFA, DSE and Shire. Nearly one quarter of the Island population attended. · Two Bushfire Planning Workshops were facilitated by the CFA. Approximately 40 people attended these workshops. · The September 2009 edition of the Island newsletter, “Raymond Island Matters” was dedicated to bushfire preparation. · These included tips on personal protective clothing and equipment, the importance of having a battery powered radio and woolen blankets, and drawing people’s attention to relevant CFA publications
Building mutually supportive relationships with the local CFA and the Municipal Emergency Managers · 30 residents met with CFA facilitators to start up a Community Fireguard Group · Islanders were encouraged to “adopt a fire plug”. All residents were asked to identify the closest fire plug to their property, and to assist the CFA by keeping it clear of grass, overhanging branches and debris. A map of all the fire plugs on the island was made available at the ferry shelter and on the Island website. · Members of the Bushfire Preparation Committee met regularly with senior staff from the East Gippsland Shire’s Municipal Emergency Management department.
Providing practical suggestions on simple steps to reduce the risk of bushfire, and to help make people safer in the event of bushfire · We conducted an Island-wide drive to encourage residents to obtain and complete Emergency Medical Information books and keep them on their fridges. · Two community burn-offs were held, with assistance from the CFA and Shire. Volunteers collected garden waste from residents without their own trailer, operated the mulcher and provided a sausage sizzle. · We negotiated a discount on battery operated radios for Islanders with the Bairnsdale Retravision store. · A woollen blanket collection was undertaken, for loan to residents during the bushfire season. We currently have a stockpile of about 30 blankets. · A Volunteer Register was established, whereby interested Islanders can nominate equipment, tools, expertise, skills, emergency accommodation etc that MAY be available in the event of an emergency. About 40 residents have signed up for the register.
Working with the ferry operator to assist people to leave early, and to plan for an orderly evacuation if necessary · We prepared a flier advising residents and visitors that they should not expect to get their vehicle off the island in the event of a fire · It was agreed with the ferry operator that on the evening before a code red day, the ferry would operate continuously throughout the night to ensure people were able to leave early · Established an SMS subscription service for islanders to notify them if the ferry goes out unexpectedly. This service is not intended as a formal emergency notification service, however the CFA, Shire Municipal Emergency Managers and Police have been advised that the service exists should they ever have need of it.
Ensuring that visitors to the island understood the risks and implications of a bushfire on the Island · Obtained agreement from holiday rental managers to include a bushfire information pack with the information they provide to people renting holiday accommodation on the Island. · Downloaded and printed multiple copies of the CFA “Leaving Early” publication for distribution to holiday renters. · Included A4 fliers for distribution to holiday renters regarding ferry operation in the event of a fire
Effectiveness · A survey was conducted in July 2010 seeking community feedback on the effectiveness of our activities, and suggestions for improvement. The survey was emailed to 178 residents, and we had 36 responses (a response rate of over 21% of survey recipients). · From these results we learned that awareness of the initiatives undertaken ranged from 68% to 86%. This will help us to fine-tune our communications in future. · Of the 10 bushfire preparation initiatives covered in the survey, where respondents were aware of them, they overwhelmingly indicated that the initiatives were either moderately effective or highly effective.
Personal Protection Bag
Have you and your family got personal protection bags ready?
An island resident has offered to show us the contents of his bushfire personal protection bag, along with some advice about what needs to be considered.
Obviously if you had to purchase all the items new to make a kit like this it would cost a bit, particularly if you were preparing bags for a number of family members. However, most people have many of these items already.
The contents of the bags should be checked at the start of the fire season, then placed in an accessible spot (such as on the veranda or in the laundry) and stay there until the threat of bushfire is over. Then it can go in the bottom of the wardrobe until next year.
information regarding this meeting is available in the October edition of the Raymond Island Matters newsletter which will be delivered to you. A copy of the newsletter is also available on this website.
The good old fashioned radio - your best friend in a bushfire
ABC Regional radio is the official emergency services network, and the only way to stay fully informed of bushfire information is to turn the radio on and keep it on whenever there is a high fire danger day.
The frequency for us is 100.7 FM.
Loss of electricity is commonplace in bushfire situations, so you need to make sure your radio can also be operated on batteries, and that you have spare batteries on hand.
If you don’t already own a battery-operated radio you really should make this a top priority before the bushfire season.
Laurie Bouch from Bairnsdale Retravision has offered a special discount to Raymond Islanders to encourage them to buy a good, battery operated radio before the bushfire season starts.
The Lennox R174 AM/FM usually sells for $29.95, but until the end of September, Raymond Islanders can purchase one for $25.00. It runs off mains electricity and batteries (you will need 4 x D batteries).
This radio is very portable, has a large on/off switch, and easy to read dials. It features a large 2-way speaker system, and measures just 28cm x 18cm x 8cm.
Order yours now, and if you like, we can organise an island-wide delivery once they are in stock.
Bairnsdale Retravision is at Shop 1 Rivera Plaza, Main Street Bairnsdale. Phone 5152 2236