Bushfire preparedness

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (15:19): Today, I rise to speak on a very important issue in my community, and that is about being bushfire ready. In 2016, South Australia experienced its wettest winter. In 2017, many parts of the state have experienced below average rainfall. As we head into the 2017-18 bushfire season, the combination of an abundant growth of fine fuel caused by last year's rain and reduced moisture this year has resulted in many areas of above normal fire potential.

The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2017 is an incredibly important document used by fire authorities to make strategic decisions on resource planning and prescribed fire management for the upcoming season. I encourage all members to be familiar with this hand guide for the reported outlook in their respective areas. Fortunately, the outlook for the Mitcham Hills community, which I represent, is for normal fire potential. This is despite it being unlikely that spring and early summer will provide any substantial rainfall.

Normal fire potential means we should still expect to experience dangerous bushfire conditions as there is no place for complacency in the Australian summer. One of the many attractions of the Mitcham Hills is the abundance of natural vegetation, but the leafy surrounds and the wide expanse of bushland do come at a risk to residents each year. Of course, that is the leafy surrounds from Belair National Park to all our reserves. They provide a rich source of fuel for an out of control fire.

Local residents must be reminded of the importance of preparing their family, their home or business and the community for the bushfire season. We must also understand how quickly a fire threat could be upon us and what we need to do in the event of an emergency. That is why last week I was pleased to host, together with the Sturt CFS, a community forum on how to be bushfire ready. It was well supported by the community, illustrating the strong interest in the topic, and I would like to thank all those who attended and participated in an enthusiastic Q&A session.

We were very fortunate to have the Sturt CFS, led by Dale Thompson, present an excellent information presentation on the realities of fighting fires, including a confronting video taken from a fire truck during the 2015 Pinery bushfire. I think that everyone in the room was shocked at the ferocity of that fire at Pinery, the speed at which it moved and how quickly the road in front of the truck disappeared in a cloud of thick grey and black smoke. If the message from the CFS that night was not clear, the video certainly was. It was a motivating reminder that, if the worst does happen and your home is threatened by a bushfire, leaveā€”and leave early.

It also highlighted the value of completing a bushfire survival plan. Everyone in my community should have a bushfire survival plan about preparing your home, your street and your community ahead of the summer by cleaning out gutters, mowing lawns, removing flammable materials from around your home and also knowing where to go in the event of a forced evacuation. There was widespread recognition amongst the audience at the community forum that they had plenty of work to do in order to be prepared for the bushfire season, which formally starts on 1 December in my community.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank our dedicated volunteers at the Sturt CFS for their outstanding work. They comprise the brigades of Belair, Blackwood, Coromandel Valley, Cherry Gardens and Eden Hills. The men and women of these brigades stop what they are doing, they stop their work and they stop their family life in order to serve our community by fighting local fires and helping others. They commit many hours to training to ensure that they are prepared when called upon to help those in their moment of crisis. No doubt they will be hard at work again this summer to protect our lives and property.

The community, as it does so often every year, supports our local CFS. There are always many fundraising opportunities for the CFS in my community but, in particular, on 25 November I will be co-hosting a fundraising barbecue at Coles Blackwood together with the federal member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint, and the Mitcham mayor, Glenn Spear.

I encourage everyone to pop in on that Saturday morning to buy a snag after they finish their shopping to support the very worthy cause that is supporting our local CFS. Whilst you are in the area, it is of course always important to support our local Blackwood traders as well. On 25 November, I encourage my community and everyone around to support our local CFS.