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Almost bought the Farm today - Oz Bushfires

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Almost bought the Farm today - Oz Bushfires

Old 8th Feb 2009, 11:24
  #61 (permalink)  
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BBC are now reporting at least 84 dead
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 11:45
  #62 (permalink)  
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Buster.... fark!

Can't imagine the courage and dedication it takes to do a job like that! Stay safe!

As for the f#####g s#####s who are starting fires, I think murder charges are an absolute minimum.

Of course the best way would be to put them in a small room with half a dozen firefighters who've been involved in the fires. I'm sure they could think of some appropriate and imaginative ways to get their point across!
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 13:12
  #63 (permalink)  
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I hope Buster Hyman will in future carefully consider and evaluate the risks / benefits of endangering 'life and limb'. If only because JetBlast would be a poorer place without you...?!

Nevertheless, from the comfort of my armchair, I have some observations to share:

1) Compared with last year's California fires, Australia's fires today have resulted in many more lives lost. Why? I realise that the total area affected is perhaps 10 times greater than that of the California fires, but even so...

2) I have the impression that in California, it was mainly housing that was at risk. So evacuating entire communities 'early on' made sense. So why wasn't this done in Australia? Or are / were those mainly affected those who felt obliged to remain in order to protect their livelihoods eg. farmers with livestock etc. Or something worse, admirable Ozzie stubborness in the face of adversity, perhaps encouraged by public officials etc...

3) Coincidentally, in recent weeks, I've been watching a TV program here about Australian architects of mostly multi-million $ luxury homes built 'out in the sticks' (or bush or whatever) there. In every case, the architects had taken into serious consideration the dangers posed to the property by cyclones, floods and wildfires. One property was even equipped with a comprehensive 'external sprinkler system', designed to be able to operate continuously for over 2 hours and incorporating multiple water-tanks with a total capacity of over 180,000 litres from a location with a sufficient height to operate the system without using pumps. Obviously, a multi-millionaire (and his architect) can afford overkill.

But shouldn't the average house-owner (or community) in 'high-risk' areas also be expected to take adequate preventative measures today? Whether that involves limiting the number of incendiary trees and vegetation, or more appropriately, removing 'dry brush' from within a 50-100m radius of their properties? In addition to keeping their home insurance policies paid up. And evacuate early on enough so that fire-fighters might concentrate on fighting the fires instead of devoting all their efforts on saving the lives of all the idiots who didn't get out early enough...?! At the end of the day, once residents have been evacuated, I reckon that most fire-fighters also perhaps ought to call it a day and go home. Saving lives and containing a fire is one thing. Risking life and limb to limit the losses to insurance companies is quite another. At some stage, the fire-fighter must decide whether what they're doing is worthwhile or whether they've become the unpaid servants of an insurance company...?!
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 13:16
  #64 (permalink)  

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Just found this thread. Thinking of you mate, watch out for yourself. Make it a slab of beer for Buster...

A gong for Buster perhaps?
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 13:25
  #65 (permalink)  
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Airship, unlike California where it seems to be mainly woody scrub which burns the gum trees in Australia give off highly imflammable oils which fuel the fires. The leaves are a good, readily available source of these oils and being located at the tops of the trees help the fires to crown out spreading at an incredibly fast rate. The direction of spread can change without warning so areas thought to be safe suddenly find themselves directly in the path of the fires.
My suggestion for what to do with the criminals who light the fires deliberately: force them to attend as many of the funerals of their victims as possible, then make them clear up the results of their activities, following which they should have to help rebuild the homes which have been lost and last, but not least, send them out to fight similar fires and let them see just how terrifying it really is. I don't mean send them out to fight just one, they should be sent to every single one and right into the thick of it, no pussyfooting about on the perimeters of the areas thought to be safe.
I am NOT a vindictive person but what these criminals have done is horrific and I wouldn't like to be in their shoes if they do encounter someone truly vindictive
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 13:28
  #66 (permalink)  
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The news is now saying 84 with the distinct possibility that the toll may top 100. At least the weather forcecast is for cooler weather tomorrow with the possibility of rain. That, at least, will be a blessing for the firefighters.

As for the scrotes that set fires I think that there should be the ability to hang them by the neck until dead. This latest incident is on a par with terrorism.

We had a major fire in the Perth hills a couple of years ago. I didn't take the pic below - I was driving the light tanker. We got out of that situation by the skin of our teeth. The fire was moving incredibly fast.

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Old 8th Feb 2009, 13:32
  #67 (permalink)  
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Good luck, mate.

Like the way yer Missus is in on the scene and is lookin' after yer in the 'post traumatic' stuff.

Take care.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 13:51
  #68 (permalink)  

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Whatever the final death toll may be, how can we come to grips withe arseholes who deliberately set these fires? No thinking person can understand it. What do these people do when they watch the news and realise they have killed people? Are they still thrilled by the excitement of it all or do some of them think, hey hang on, I didn't want to kill anyone?

To me it doesn't matter a great deal. My basest (is that a word?) instincts rise to the surface when I hear about things like this, and though I've never thrown a punch in my life I pray for the opportunity of five minutes armed with a baseball bat in a padded room with the perpetrators.

I'm not at all sure what that makes me, apart from a gigantic hypocrite, but I don't care. Keep up the good work, Buster. The really insidious part is that a lot of people who join volunteer fire brigades do so because of their fascination with arson.

Make that a stainless steel baseball bat, please. Ms Wombat probably has a better idea in making them attend the funerals of those they have murdered, but I'm just a bloke and at the last resort violence has a certain symmetry. Don't ever be the person to hurt one of the Binoettes.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 13:56
  #69 (permalink)  
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Definately a slab of beer for Buster

As a QLD firie, just a few points airship, -

in terms of the death toll, sadly i would predict that the majority will be in vehicles trying to flee the flames. There has unfortunately in the past been a lot of deaths in vehicles as people try to flee too late - we've now gone to a policy of "stay and defend(the property) or go early". If you are going to stay then stay but don't leave at the last minute. However, most people whilst it is a distant problem will say they're staying (perfectly reasonable, if they've spent years building/living there they want to protect it) but when they see flames they panic and bolt (again a normal/reasonable action) but this places them at a bigger risk than staying. I'm the first to admit i'm not sure as to the answer to that quandry.

In terms of evacuating a community, it would depend on numerous factors. Up here in Qld, we can still order an evacuation if required and police will remove everyone, however i don't think vic allows that if they want to stay then that's it, their call. Secondly, a lot of houses (the majority?) in bushfires are not destroyed by direct flame contact but by an ember attack ( glowing embers blown into the house set it alight) if the home owner is there he can put out the embers and may save his property. The other concern with evacuating a whole community is traffic- you're blocking/ clogging roads with evac' traffic just when you want them clear for fire appliances.

As for keeping the property clean/ clear of scrub, i'm not sure you need a law- it would be difficult to enforce ("their property they can do what they like on it" would be one argument) and who would enforce it (fire/council/EPA??). However, In Qld and Nsw if a property is overgrown / scrubby then it is the firies choice and generally if a property is completey undefendable we don't go in, however make an effort to protect the property, then we'll make an effort too, But if they can't look after their property and keep it clean/safe/secure then we will not put our crews lives at risk for bricks and mortar.

As for the sprinkler systems, I've never seen one used on a really bad fire day and they are designed to stop an ember attack, to be honest i'm not sure how they would've coped with the fire conditions there.

Sorry for the long post, and not having a go at you airship - you raised some good points and hopefully this has helped

Keep safe down there Buster

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Old 8th Feb 2009, 14:01
  #70 (permalink)  
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Ditto for WA landy. We had a death at a fire last year when it was panic evac (to be fair the fire was moving that fast there was no warning) and the poor girl drove into smoke, went off the road and that was that. Not sure whether it was the crash or the fire that finished her off.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 14:39
  #71 (permalink)  
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BBC latest. Heaven help them all. We need to pray for rain for them, and rain in sufficient quantity to douse the flames.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 14:57
  #72 (permalink)  
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Thank you for your input here (and all your efforts there) landy01!

You evoke
...a policy of "stay and defend (the property) or go early"
on an ad hoc basis. Is that the official Oz government-sanctionned response to wildfires there? And how on earth is that manageable? Surely the end-result is that fire-fighters have to assume that lives are at risk throughout the whole zone as opposed to only say severely (limited?) areas where property-owners are authorised to stay on the basis that their presence would be more useful than otherwise...?

Maybe most Australians living in areas highly prone to wildfires can't afford the installation of individual sprinkler systems with 180,000 litre tank capacities...?! But Shirley, they ought to consider incorporating a tornado shelter in their abodes? OK, no tornadoes there, but I suspect a good con-pilot Oklahoma-style tornado shelter would also preserve human lives against wildfires?! It was just a thought...

Still, I'm quite sad when I think about all those Kuolas up those highly-inflammable eucalyptus trees...but maybe the reason kangaroos can hop/jump so long/high is because of all the wildfire embers that evolution has allowed them to cope with? At least, the dingoes are safe 'on the other side of the fence'...?!
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 16:07
  #73 (permalink)  
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Ironically, I was speaking to my in-laws at Innisfail, Queensland, who are reeling from a sustained deluge of rain that has sent the river through the town well over its banks causing extensive damage, in Innisfail and throughout the TNQ region.

Buster, I echo the thoughts and prayers for you and all those fighting the fires. You're part of the thin line of firefighters, police, soldiers, et al, taking risks to keep people alive and their property intact, often thanklessly.

Cheers to you!
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 16:15
  #74 (permalink)  

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As for the scrotes that set fires I think that there should be the ability to hang them by the neck until dead.

Or at least until the rope burns through...
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 17:03
  #75 (permalink)  
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Accuracy in Journalism

airship wrote: they ought to consider incorporating a tornado shelter in their abodes? OK, no tornadoes there, but I suspect a good con-pilot Oklahoma-style tornado shelter would also preserve human lives against wildfires?! It was just a thought...

Airship, having been in the path of an aproaching fire driven by high winds, we were "smoked" for about three hours before it hit our community, and you can't imagine how hard it is to breath with the air full of particles. It goes on and on before you see the first flames. Then the fire arrives and suddenly you're short of O2 as well.

I always thought i'd stay and fight the fire: when it happened we were only too ready to obey the police and leave the fire fighting to the professionals, God Bless Them.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 18:16
  #76 (permalink)  

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but I suspect a good con-pilot Oklahoma-style tornado shelter would also preserve human lives against wildfires?! It was just a thought...
Sadly not in every case airship. The problem is two fold using a traditional storm shelter as refuge from grass/forest fires. If, and very big if, the fire is very fast moving you do have a chance of surviving by seeking protecting in a storm shelter. However, if the fire is slow moving, or becomes stationary, you have two serious problems that will probably kill you. First, probably the most merciful, you would die from asphyxiation as the fire would suck all of the oxygen from the shelter. Secondly, and much worse in my opinion, would be that anyone in a storm shelter in a slow moving or stationary fire would literally be baked to death as the shelter would become a giant oven.

No, best bet is to get out before the fire reaches you.

You're a brave man Buster, it takes a special person that runs toward danger as the rest of us run away. Keep smart and safe.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 19:02
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Regarding the fire fighting capabilities how well organized are the local/ federal forces? Are there any plans that are reviewed and dry ran every year?

Somebody said that there is an 1-10-100 ratio that 1 Currency unit in firefighting preparation / prevention is worth 10 units in firefighting abilities and 100 units in money spent post fire. How is the situation in Australia?

All the best.

Rwy in Sight
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 19:37
  #78 (permalink)  

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Oh I can think of braver ones Con!

I've just finished a 12 hour night shift "blacking out" areas already burned. This is to make sure they don't flare up again & don't shed embers into unburnt areas. It's an eerily dead landscape & all around us we could see small points of orange light where smouldering trees & hotspots remained. As we descended into the treeline, we were seeing & hearing the gum trees snapping & one fell nearby. It's tough to clearly see where we need to go, but knowing that its just too dangerous to enter in the dark. My cousin is a Scouser firefighter & he reckons we're mad for doing this for free!!!

So, they're talking 108 deaths at the moment. Complete & utter tragedy. Some expats may recall the retired newsreader Brian Naylor, well, sadly he & his wife are victims of this fire. The dayshift guys were telling us they are just going street by street & finding bodies.

airship...I'm just too tired to contribute an answer to your valid questions, but I think Landy01 has pretty much nailed it. As firies, we don't have the power to forcibly evacuate, but I think Victoria Police do. The "fight or flee" principle generally works in that when the fire front hits, it hits hard & fast. If you're staying, you do your best asset protection up to it hitting you, then seek shelter. Once past, you assess the situation & decide if you can save the property or evacuate. Yes, more holes than Swiss cheese, but due to the speed, I think the fire front doesn't have time to engulf the property on it's own. It's an accumulation of embers that generally cause the problems....I don't dare re-read this last bit as it's probably rubbish coz I've been up for 23hours!

Hi seafury45. I worked on the Canberra Coronial Inquest...what an absolute cluster f*** that was!!!

Binos & anyone else who wants to go after the arsonists...I've got a better one for you. There were been some young guys yesterday driving up to the fire crews on the roads, jumping out & throwing punches! I shit you not! Cops have been chasing them all over trying to stop them. Sicker than bat shit some of the freaks down here.

Anyhoo, we've got an 800 k fire front, or so they told me. Not sure if I'll be called in again tonight. Better email work to tell them I won't be in, nice cuppa & brekky with the family & then...
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 20:08
  #79 (permalink)  

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Sleep well Buster.
You and your mates are doing a fine job.

Where can we send a donation?
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 21:23
  #80 (permalink)  

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Reddo. The Salvation Army offers opportunities for on-line donations. There are a number of organisations also co ordinating donations but I suspect their 1800 numbers might not be any use to you. Try here.

News Release - Bushfire Appeal

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