I recently picked up a copy of Ian Mannix’s ‘Great Australian Bushfire Stories’, and I found myself unable to put it down until I had read it cover to cover. The real and moving stories of everyday people’s experiences with bushfire that are contained within it affected me more deeply than any book I’ve read for a long time. In particular, it was a bizzare experience to read about the 2003 Canberra bushfires. I lived in one of the suburbs on the outskirts of Canberra at the time, and vividly remember the blackened skies and billowing smoke, and the preparations I was directed to make to my home in case the fire swung around and headed our way. I was lucky, unlike so many others, but it brought home to me what a dangerous and unpredictable country we live in, and how circumstances can change in an instant, uncontrollable flames spreading (literally) like wildfire, threatening (and taking) lives and property mindlessly. Reading Ian’s book brought a new dimension to the madness and terror that being caught up in a bushfire must be filled with.
We are extremely lucky that we have a valiant and heroic team of volunteers, who risk their own lives to protect those of others. Here in Queensland, our rural fire brigades are made up of more than 1,400 volunteer brigades, and more than 34,000 volunteers (both firefighters and support members). The Rural Fire Brigade Association of Queensland also support the 2,600 rural fire wardens who are an integral and highly valued part of the rural fire fighting movement – many of them volunteer firefighters as well.
These volunteers protect their local and wider communities: not only by fighting bushfires, but also attending house fires, assisting with flood preparation and clean up; providing support in cyclone preparation and clean up; and helping the community through hazard reduction burning, and delivering the ‘Prepare, Act, Survive’ message. Brigades work closely with other agencies such as local councils, SES, Department of Main Roads and Forestry and this close working relationship helps local brigades meet local community needs.
This month, while contemplating which worthy cause I could support, I was fortuitously inspired by my friend from the lovely MadeIt shops ‘i made this for you‘ and ‘..and then some‘, who has had her own experiences with bushfire, and I’m glad to say The Silver Forge will be donating 10% of all sales to the Rural Fire Brigade Association of Queensland. Please help support this worthy cause, either directly or by purchasing something from The Silver Forge shop, won’t you!