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Why don't people take fire warnings seriously?


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#1 solongsuckers

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:22 PM

There is a fire a few kms away from someone I know at the moment. Not huge, but they never are when they have just started!

CFA has issued a watch and act warning, which means:

Watch and Act

    An emergency threatens you.
    Conditions are changing and you need to start taking action now to protect your health, life and your family.


The warning says this fire may impact the area in the next couple of hours. Their response? Oh we'll just wait and see how it goes, the CFA will ring us if we need to get out. WTF?! The CFA are there to fight the fire, not to go and evacuate everyone that has not bothered to pay attention to the warnings and what they mean. This is why the warnings exist!

#2 Lyra

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:25 PM

I don't think people understand how fire works. Fires can move quickly and change directions very quickly. I also don't think people understand that they are not the only person trying to evacuate: one road out is going to get congested very quickly. People also don't understand that in thick smoke it can be difficult to see. Fire is very noisy making it difficult to hear properly. All these factors can make people confused and disoriented

and, at the heart of it, I do think there is an element of 'it won't happen to me'

#3 solongsuckers

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:29 PM

Well, this particular fire is now under control (a few minutes ago) which happened quite quickly but still, the advice should be taken seriously as you really never know if they are gong to control it or not do you.

#4 Lyra

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:33 PM

QUOTE (SirDidymus @ 08/01/2013, 02:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Well, this particular fire is now under control (a few minutes ago) which happened quite quickly but still, the advice should be taken seriously as you really never know if they are gong to control it or not do you.



I grew up in a fire risk area. My parents were members of the CFS. I did stuff for the CFS in my teenage years. I take all fires and all fire risks very very seriously

#5 Jareluma

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:36 PM

We have a big one in town at the moment, thankfully not close to me, but I have friends posting on facebook saying its up to their fence line and the CFA has an emergency warning telling people to leave now if they're not prepared to fight, yet no one is taking notice unsure.gif

#6 Katie_bella

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:41 PM

It's simple really......people don't think it will ever happen to them. They think there will always be someone there to save them.

People have little idea about how bush/grass fires react and respond and don't realise that things can change in an instant.

They forget the pictures and stories of whole families being incinerated in their baths and cars from black saturday.

#7 liveworkplay

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:45 PM

I don't get it either. I have been glued to our official fire service page here in Tas even though the closest fire is 40km away. The are constantly updating, constantly jumping from "watch and Act" to "emergency"  The devastation the main fire has caused is unbelievable as well as over 100 dwellings destroyed. Interviews with some of the people who stayed to help fight said it was literally within 30seconds that the fire went from the hill to so close they had to run to the cars/trucks and get out of there.

I have a very real fear of fire and there is no way I would even be sticking around to defend my property, let alone "wait and see".

#8 solongsuckers

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:47 PM

QUOTE (Katie_bella @ 08/01/2013, 02:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's simple really......people don't think it will ever happen to them. They think there will always be someone there to save them.

People have little idea about how bush/grass fires react and respond and don't realise that things can change in an instant.

They forget the pictures and stories of whole families being incinerated in their baths and cars from black saturday.


I think that is why I take it so seriously. I can't get those images out of my head. I would rather be called paranoid and leave at the first sign of danger and come back alive than hang around and wait and see and be stuck there when it is too late.

#9 Caitlin Happymeal

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:50 PM

I also wonder at the way they give people the option of staying and defending - I personally would get a whiff of danger and be outta there straight away - whether my house was prepared or not. As long as the members of the family were safe, I wouldn't care if a) nothing happened and I evacuated for nothing or b) house burns to ground and only ashes are left. (Well of course I would care, but you know what I mean - I would rather have a family alive).

But what I cant understand is why they don't just flat out tell people to evacuate - is there much point to staying and defending your property? I am probably quite naive in that I've only lived in bushfire prone areas that are mostly residential, not farm land or anything like that. Obviously the farmers have more at stake and are more prepared both in equipment and in experience at dealing with a fire?

Not really sure what I'm getting at, other than, why not just get the heck out anyway? Please feel free to clue me in on why people do stay and whether it really is helpful to the rural fire crews when they do this - I am genuinely curious.

#10 PrincessPeach

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:52 PM

I think this is similar to the do people really still sunbake thread - they simply don't think it will apply to them.

I suppose if they don't live in an area that is fire prone you don't know the usual proceedures & i am also surprised at the number of people who don't watch the news.

#11 HRH Countrymel

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:53 PM

As PP said people believe that it 'won't happen to them'.

DP has been opening a few eyes amongst our friends of late as he will ask EVERYONE 'What's your fire plan?'  and if he doesn't think it is polished enough hassle them till they fix it.

He has also let people know about the difference between 'defendable' and 'non defendable' properties.

Our property is 'non defendable' (which throws a lot of people) because in spite of all our fire prevention prep. work we are at the very end of the road.  

If there is no alternate escape route then the fire service will class you as 'non defendable'. Fire fighters are there to help, not to take life threatening risks for your property.

Edited by countrymel, 08 January 2013 - 01:55 PM.


#12 noi'mnot

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:53 PM

They don't think it will happen to them.

But also, they think that if it does happen to them that somehow they will be different - they'll manage to successfully defend their properties and their lives.

They have NO IDEA of how dramatic, terrifying, fast, confusing, hot, smoky and most important DEADLY a bushfire is.

Edited by noi'mnot, 08 January 2013 - 01:54 PM.


#13 Princess.cranky.pants

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:55 PM

Yes people just don't think it will happen to them. They also make the mistake of thinking they have heaps of time.

My parents were country farmers and they were always very vigilant about fire prevention and safety. They live in the middle of town now but still cannot understand why people have trees right up to the door and no fire breaks. And why people do not take the threat of fire seriously.

Me too SirDid.. smoke in the hills, me and the kids are out of there!

Edited by Princess.cranky.pants, 08 January 2013 - 01:56 PM.


#14 solongsuckers

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:56 PM

QUOTE (PrincessPeach @ 08/01/2013, 02:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I suppose if they don't live in an area that is fire prone you don't know the usual proceedures & i am also surprised at the number of people who don't watch the news.


The thing is, this is an area in the bush, so you would think they would be aware.

#15 solongsuckers

Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:59 PM

QUOTE (Kitty-N @ 08/01/2013, 02:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But what I cant understand is why they don't just flat out tell people to evacuate - is there much point to staying and defending your property? I am probably quite naive in that I've only lived in bushfire prone areas that are mostly residential, not farm land or anything like that. Obviously the farmers have more at stake and are more prepared both in equipment and in experience at dealing with a fire?


Once we have our property properly prepared then DH will probably defend our house if there is a fire (I would leave with the kids). Not on the code red days though. If a house is properly prepared then there is a good chance of being able to save it.

We have a lot of work to do before we are at that point. At this stage we are outta here on extreme risk days (we aren't extreme today)

#16 countrychic29

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:04 PM

unless you are in a major city or town, you are at risk.
it can and does happen to people who dont think it will happen to them...
it amazes me the complacency of some people.

We left work friday due to a watch and act - we werent prepared and even though our building is not flammable i said to my brother if fire was that close at home and you got a watch and act we would leave...so we did.

#17 casime

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:05 PM

My neighbour went out the other day and left her young son home alone on the day that was going to be the worst fire danger day to that point.  I was furious with her!  She was an hour or so away, playing in a friends pool, and left a young boy in a rural property next to a bush reserve on his own with no means of escape.  If I hadn't seen her facebook post and rang her to ask about her son, I wouldn't have known he was even there, so wouldn't have known to take him with me if we had evacuated.    rant.gif

People just don't take it seriously enough.  Someone on the other thread thinks it would take "a day or two" for a fire to travel 50km so your safe.  You aren't safe!  You cannot possibly think that you have any chance of saving your house with a garden hose.  

Quite frankly, I don't care if my house burnt down.  My house is insured and stuff can be replaced.  I would be sad, but my DS, dogs and I would be alive.  That's why I pay a fortune for insurance every year, in the event of something like this happening.  I can replace clothes and household belongings, I can't replace family and pets.    

Just get out.   You don't know better than the professionals who spent their lives fighting these horrible fires.  If they suggest you leave, then for once in your life, do as you're bloody well told!

#18 mumofsky

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:06 PM

I will never, ever forget one of the black saturday stories - i think it was a dad. he had packed his young family into the car but the fire was quite a way, nowhere near them so he ran back up to the house to get photo albums or something. Within 2 minutes the fire hit and he came back to find the car completely incinerated. I dont know how anyone can be complacent.

#19 Squeekums Da Feral

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:23 PM

This wont be a popular opinion but honestly we are in Australia, the fire risk is well known and if you choose to ignore the warnings your nothing but a bloody idiot.


#20 ~sydblue~

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:28 PM

It's the same reason as with a lot of things 'IT WON'T HAPPEN TO ME.'

#21 HIH.GD.Isolabella

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:28 PM

We need to drive Sydney to Melb. We are watching the fires, weather and forecasts and will try and choose an appropriate day. Our original plan of driving today was canned. Good thing too, Hume is closed due to fires around Tarcutta.

Hopefully we will be able to drive Thurs but keeping an eye on it. Worst case senario is DH flies home to return to work and the kids and I drive in another weeks time.



#22 FeralProudSwahili

Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:31 PM

QUOTE (Katie_bella @ 08/01/2013, 02:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's simple really......people don't think it will ever happen to them. They think there will always be someone there to save them.

People have little idea about how bush/grass fires react and respond and don't realise that things can change in an instant.

They forget the pictures and stories of whole families being incinerated in their baths and cars from black saturday.


All of the above. Many people really don't think that these things can happen to them.

#23 MintyBiscuit

Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:08 PM

QUOTE (countrymel @ 08/01/2013, 02:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Our property is 'non defendable' (which throws a lot of people) because in spite of all our fire prevention prep. work we are at the very end of the road.


I didn't know this was the case, so I've learnt something today. Our house is also at the end of a cul-de-sac, and the back fence is a massive ten foot wall (large road on the other side) so the street is the only way out. It makes sense now I think of it, but it's something I'd never thought about.

We're not in a hugely high risk area, although we are close to some parklands. My fire plan is GTFO. I was thinking about it today, and I could throw some clothes in a bag, grab my laptop and box of important documents, and have the cat and DS in the car in about ten minutes. If a fire broke out in the parklands we're near that is exactly what I would be doing.

PPs are right - no one thinks it will happen to them. And people get attached to material possessions and have a strong urge to protect their home. I would be devastated to lose our home, but there is no way I would risk the lives of DS, DH, myself or even my cat to try and defend it, even if we were prepared.

#24 emnut

Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:29 PM

I don't know but I'm somewhat annoyed with one of my cousins - after his sister losing her house in Black Saturday he has waited until being told to evacuate recently to go despite there being a fire already only 10kms or so from his home and in a catastrophic area today.  We are very much in the leave before problems category (well DS & I - DH stays due to being in the CFA)

#25 Barefoot

Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:37 PM

I am watching the rfs website, and the local rfs Facebook page. We are in the catastrophic classification, but there is no fire. I imagine that if a fire comes it means get out fast, but what does it mean if there is no fire? Nothing really.




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