Firefighters are spot-on with advice


IT is a credit to our firefighters, including the 4800 volunteers, that the bushfires are so far fatality free.

Authorities have not completed their thorough search for possible casualties and there are still weeks of a hot summer remaining, but so far so good.

It defies logic that a fire of greater intensity to the 1967 firestorm in Southern Tasmania, in hotter conditions with equally strong winds, has so far not claimed a life.

We hope and pray this remains the case.

In 1967, fire authorities were woefully unprepared.

They lacked the resources and the technology we have now, where authorities can identify and assess a danger from a week out.

On Black Tuesday 1967, a calm morning with moderate temperatures transformed within hours into a firestorm.

It cost 62 lives, 900 injuries and 3000 homes and other buildings.

It ranks alongside the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires in Victoria and South Australia where 72 lost their lives, and of course in the remote Victorian bush with little chance or avenues for escape, 173 lost their lives in 2009.

It puts last Friday into perspective. It does not detract for a moment from the heartache of those who lost their homes, pets, stock and belongings, but, on a mass scale, it could have been far worse.

Just thank the emergency services for their tireless commitment, their expertise and endurance, and the way they kept us all so well informed on how to react.

The Tasmania Fire Service has already started an evaluation of its performance. Every tragedy includes some hard lessons learned, but useful lessons.

Victoria's Black Saturday tragedy rewrote the rule book on when to evacuate or remain to defend the home.

The official advice to residents is now invaluable in helping them to make informed and correct decisions in an emergency.

There still may be loss of life this summer and mistakes made.

A bushfire in catastrophic conditions will always be unpredictable, but our emergency services deserve great credit for helping to keep the human cost to a minimum.


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