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Katrina Walsh

13 February 2021

Each fire starts as a tiny spark,
It feasts, roars and destroys while left unaddressed.
“I see smoke rising near the Clyde River”
“Call back when you see flames”.
A tiny spark can be attended to with minimal ‘cost’
…..with minimal effort and fast, efficient approval.
Surely this is mindful management?
Perhaps even early intervention? Proactive?
To save our assets. To save our lives?
So, what are “our assets’?
Surely the native bush is our asset?
Surely the native animals too?
I know it is ‘bush’ but it is not waste-land.
People still live there. Play there. Drive there. Seek nature there.
We breathe its air. It is our survival.
I know the bush is our asset,
Habitats that function better than the human world.
So why wait until the spark grows?
Gorging on fuel and oxygen, polluting our skies?
Why wait for more adverse weather to arrive? To make it worse?
To put it out?
Banking on rain is weak. A cop out. Been there done that - in drought.
Rain will come. But in how many days’ time?
What will the cost be for waiting?
The cost will be LOSS.
Loss of bushland
Loss of animals
Loss of lives…..people’s lives, animals’ lives
Loss of property
Loss of purpose
Loss of mind.
The cost of waiting will exponentially explode.
Technical term, for ‘grow out of control’.
Technical term, for ‘too hard to measure’.
Technical term for ‘too difficult to resolve’.
Technical term – it can’t be undone!
OOPS! You cant get back what is lost.
Decisions will be made in haste.
Without evidence.
Because decisions made in haste
And decisions made because “that’s what we always do”
Are no longer decisions that are considered,
Are no longer decisions that are measured, nor valid.
So, a backburn is one call. One decision made in haste.
But not one backburn. Many. Repeatedly.
Same properties came under threat from repeated backburns.
How many can one family fight?
Five, six or more over 6 weeks. Are you kidding?
Decisions. Not evidence-based.
Decisions that changed lives.
Worse than that.
Decisions, once made were with no followup.
Crews told to fall back, abandon the burn that was just ignited.
Just on what do the decision-kings base their rationale?
High winds, 45+ heat.
Dire predictions that can be seen by all.
But light a backburn anyway.
It should go to plan. Shouldn’t it?
Well, no. It did not!
Lives lost! The ultimate price.
“Sad” doesn’t cover it.
“Tragedy” – neither.
Incredulous decision?….maybe.
Irresponsible? For sure.
Reprehensible? Are there more words?
More words to describe the impact?
The feeling?
The Loss. Yes, the LOSS.

Follow your fire plan – tick.
Prepare your property – tick.
Ensure you are ready – tick.
Leave early or prepare to stay and fight – tick.
It wasn’t enough, the spark had grown.
It was never going to be enough!
A lit spark, a purpose-lit spark, a venomous spark that destroyed our home,
Our street,
Our community,
My friends and neighbours.
And what of repair?
What of recovery?
Damage in my neighbours’ eyes has not dimmed.
Damage in my neighbours’ minds has not settled.
Forced to ‘manage’ as a result of a decision.
Made in haste, perhaps even with good intent – initially.
But a poor decision, nevertheless.
Once that requires attention.
One that requires explanation.
One that has not been justified to me.
Reconsider “our assets”.
Refocus on “our assets”
Approve the commissioners’ recommendations and act on them.
Don’t just nod and say how well it was done.
Do it. Act early next time….

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