Pictures of Australian fire danger rating scale and Cathy in the Australian bush shared by Cathy Brown
Cathy Brown a consultant with the business systems and Information services at the NFPA, shared what it was like growing up in Australia with wildfires. She shared that wildfire season which arrived every year with ash and burning leaves was just a part of growing up.
As a child, Cathy and her family were just as used to seeing burning leaves fly over their tile roofs and seeing smoke as some people are used to seeing snow flying in the winter. “We always saw blackened trees in the area when we drove along the bush line and did not think it was unusual. It was a part of nature and the way things worked. As a child, we were used to wildfire not scared of it.” She shared that as a child she recognized that it simply was a part of Australian human life and important natural occurrence for certain trees like the Banksia trees that need fire to reproduce.
Picture of flowers from a Banksia tree shared by Cathy Brown
In Australia, she said that her family’s home was constructed with wildfire in mind. The family home was built with a nonflammable tile roof and other non-combustible materials like brick. It was also understood that it was important to be careful about what you planted around your house and that you did not plant flammable vegetation close to the house. Her parents shared what they needed to do in case there was a fire; to be ready to leave quickly. Only once did they wake up in the early morning hours because a wildfire was getting close.
In Australia, fire brigades have a different kind of warning system than the usual designations here in the states. Their warning system even had extreme and catastrophic categories. She also shared that fires in Australia are also often caused by people. Cathy’s family had a plan about what to do if there was a wildfire. They prepared their home, and as a result, her family never panicked but accepted wildfire as a part of life. Help your family feel more secure about living in areas where wildfires occur by making a plan and preparing your home.