New advice for bushfires

New flexible water dam: Emergency Services Minister David Elliott and Penrith MP Stuart Ayres at Glenbrook RFS.

New flexible water dam: Emergency Services Minister David Elliott and Penrith MP Stuart Ayres at Glenbrook RFS.

Two new publications – one for the general public, the other for the community sector – aim to help people prepare for bushfires and other emergencies.

Be prepared: Jacquie Millynn, Kris Newton and Kath Harrison (front) with local politicians, councillors and emergency personnel at the launch.

Be prepared: Jacquie Millynn, Kris Newton and Kath Harrison (front) with local politicians, councillors and emergency personnel at the launch.

BSafe was the work of BLINN, The Blue Mountains and Lithgow Integrated Neighbourhood Network, in collaboration with Drs Sarah Redshaw and Valerie Ingham from Charles Sturt University’s Emergency Management department.

Kath Harrison, CEO of Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre, told last week’s launch that the project involved “ground-breaking research into the community sector by the Resilience and Preparedness Group, formed after the 2013 fires”.

“We wanted to see how do we reach people in their homes, in their parks, in the neighbourhoods, in their communities,” she said.

Three projects were run: Meet your street, which gathered together neighbours usually for a barbecue in a local park; More than a fire plan, which held forums where emergency personnel were on hand to give advice; and HUFF (Heads Up for Fire and other emergencies), which has been implemented in Blackheath and Mt Victoria where individuals take responsibility for their own street and neighbours.

Ms Harrison said the programs had reached more than 700 Mountains households, and had resulted in real action.

“There has been an increase of 29 per cent of people actually being prepared, a 19 per cent increase in people actually practising their [fire/emergency] plan and a 17 per cent increase in people actively going out and having an emergency kit accessible.”

She said 14 per cent more people had made contact with their neighbours and there had been an 11 per cent increase in people having a written plan to deal with an emergency.

There has been an increase of 29 per cent of people actually being prepared.

Kath Harrison, KNC

Ms Harrison said the lessons learnt from the programs had been incorporated into BSafe.

The second booklet, Get Ready!, was also born after the 2013 fires, when staff at neighbourhood centres, aged care facilities and particularly child care and out of school hours care workers realised they had to be much better prepared for disasters.

Jacquie Millynn, from the Mountains Community Resource Network, said Get Ready! gave practical steps for organisations to take.

“This is a template so staff, board members, clients and others know what to do in emergencies,” she said. 

Both booklets were launched in Katoomba by Emergency Services Minister, David Elliott. Mr Elliott said Get Ready! provided a model that could be used by community sectors in other areas of the state.

The minister later dropped in at Glenbrook RFS to announce a $5,000 grant for a 7,000-litre flexible water dam.