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Railton Brigade combines community engagement with a triage

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Railton Brigade combines community engagement with a triage

For some time, our brigade has been concerned about the bushfire risk of properties backing onto bushland or grassland around Railton. In October 2019, the brigade conducted a triage exercise near Goliath Park on the western side of Railton with the aim of:

  • Familiarising neighbouring brigades with potential offensive, defensive and backstop situations
  • Identifying hazards surrounding and encumbering properties backing onto bushland
  • Promoting bushfire preparedness to local residents
  • Giving residents the opportunity to discuss bushfire preparedness with a brigade member.

In the lead-up to the triage exercise, information packs were hand-delivered to 29 houses that backed onto bushland or grassland in the area. These packs contained information on bushfire plans, home fire escape plans, smoke alarms, and fire safety games for kids.

A cover letter explained that the purpose of the joint brigade activity was for brigade members to familiarise themselves with local properties.

The following week five crews from the Buelah, Latrobe, Tarleton and Railton brigades assembled for the triage exercise. Each crew was assigned six properties to assess, with two members of each crew to take the street front and two people to take the bushland at the back of each property.

Crew leaders were given a checklist for each property with various questions such as type of construction, roofing, availability of access to the rear of the property (and neighbouring properties), distance of water supply, hazards, and anything else worth noting. Crews were asked to classify each property on whether the owner could defend it, whether a crew could defend it or whether it was undefendable.

This exercise provided valuable pre-incident planning information for the brigades, with 11 houses being marked undefendable, two houses found to have fuse boxes blocked by porches, and one house with 415 volts. Crews also had lengthy discussions with four households during the exercise.

The 11 undefendable properties were sent a letter offering a visit from a Railton brigade member to follow up with the safety concerns and six households took up this opportunity. A further five properties that were not involved in the exercise have now asked for a visit to triage their houses.

The triage exercise enabled the brigades involved to increase their response preparedness. By building in a community engagement approach, it also provided an opportunity to encourage residents to prepare a bushfire plan and prepare their property.

It provided an opportunity to build the profile of the responding brigades, and the residents were able to ask bushfire and home fire safety questions directly to brigade members.

Ross Crack
Railton Brigade Chief

Date: 
Friday, July 9, 2021