The current State Bushfire Safety Policy Framework states:
“ A Code Red’ fire danger rating predicts the worst conditions for a bushfire, and all residents of high-risk areas are advised to leave the night before or early in the day.”
This policy is not possible to achieve: logistically, socially, emotionally or practically.
Exit roads can become death traps when spot fires spring up ahead of travellers and impassable with trees and bridges down.
For traders and businesses to shut up shop; for families to pack up and relocate infants, school children, aged parents and pets; for farmers to desert their animals; for doctors to abandon patients and for hospitals to outsource their ill, is not a workable solution.
There are many financially needy, aged and disabled rural residents who normally rely on others for transport. At a time of evacuation, the usual ‘lift’ may plan to stay and defend. Or, if evacuating, piled high as their car will be with their own family, pets and possessions, there may not be room for an extra person. Especially if they use a wheelie-walker or wheelchair. The planned destination of the usual ‘lift’ may not be that of the hopeful passenger.
What of hospitals nursing homes, gaols, animal sanctuaries, horse studs and vetinerary clinics - travelling in confined quarters for long distances on the hottest days, subject to death from heat stress?
Will ‘evacuation of all residents’ include every patient from, every prisoner and animal? Or to will only the medical staff, prison officers and sanctuary staff evacuate –leaving their charges to their own devices?
Evacuation can be as dangerous as home defence, involving also risk of psychological trauma, injury and death. The loss of one’s home and all its contents involves severe and long lasting psychological trauma.
Black Saturday research findings facts:
· Less than 1% of Black Saturday evacuees were well prepared.
· Over 3/4 of homes actively defended by householders were safely saved.
· Over 2/3 of homes in the Black Saturday firegrounds were not destroyed.
· Vacated houses form the highest percentage of those destroyed.
· Historically, more evacuees than house defenders have died during bushfires.