Bushfires

What about Bushfires?

In most cases you will be made aware of the approach or potential threat of a bushfire with up to 24hours notice. This is because typically the major bushfires have started along major roads or in builtup zones. That means the fires have to travel a reasonable distance to get to the Berowra Waters area.

Exceptions to this are fires that are started by lightning strikes close by in the National Parks. Fortunately these have not been a common. Other fires that may start within Berowra Waters are usually spotted and dealt with quickly.
Most bushfires will tend to approach Berowra Waters from the North and West, however this is by no means always the case.

Residents will get formal notification and instruction about bushfire emergencies from NSW Rural Fire Service or other authorized agency such as the Police, National Parks and Wildlife Service, SES or Waterways.
Bushfires in this area are fought by RFS Volunteers and/or residents, on foot on the edges of the River with portable petrol fire pumps and hoses, supported by large Pump Barges and aerial water bombing. Berowra Waters has a unique advantage in bushfire emergencies with an unlimited supply of water.

Each resident can build a fire fighting kit including standardized pumps and hoses matching those of the rest of the community and the RFS. Talk to the local Fire Captain at Berowra Waters RFS Station next to the Marina on the Eastern bank, about what you should do.

Bushfires burning through remote bushland and National Parks is usually left to burn, and fire services concentrate resources on defending the borders of private property.

In most cases the fires travel to the tops of the surrounding ridges and slow down as they burn down hill towards any housing settlements on the edge of the river. In these cases residents who are fit enough are encouraged to stay and prepare their properties and defend against the approaching fire with the support of the Berowra Waters Rural Fire Service and the local trained volunteers.

The intensity of these fires tends to be much less than that experienced by communities up on the ridges of the escarpment, such as Berowra Heights. However they are still an immensely powerful and terrifying experience, especially the first time round.

As the firefront approaches there is a build up in anxiety and activity and things begin to get very smoky and very noisy and confusing. Be very aware of your neighbors and stay in visual contact.

All the usual rules apply about flammable materials around the house, adequate preparation and Hazard reduction, Protective clothing, fire fighting equipment, evacuation plans, emergency supplies and following instructions from Fire Emergency Authorities. Refer to NSW RFS website for more information on preparing for bush fires. www.bushfire.nsw.gov.au

The actual fire front, whilst intense, tends to pass fairly quickly and the main fire fighting team with NSW RFS go with it. It would be very unusual for a resident to be left to fight a fire front on their own. Within an hour of the front passing, the work load is taken up with stamping out small flare ups. This mop up can last for more than 24 hours. To survive, physically, you need a plan that includes at least a few hours sleep in every 24.

Keep in mind that either before or after the fire travels through your settlement it may impact on the Carpark which includes your vehicle. Arrange for one nominated driver to action timely removal of a set of cars from the Carpark under instruction from RFS.

Power and landline phones are usually out of action for a considerable time after larger fires (up to several weeks) and drinking water may be scarce or contaminated. Have a supply of candles ready.

The SES will follow up a bushfire damaged area within 24hours and lend support food and drinking water backup. They will also install a Satellite Phone in each Bay settlement for emergency contact.

The roads leading out of Berowra Waters will probably be closed due to fallen trees and power lines after a large fire. It could take several days for SES to open those roads up properly. Hence the need for some emergency food supplies, at least in the short term.

Once a fire has reached into Berowra Waters or at least within a few kilometers of the Ferry, the roads out up the escarpment become a dangerous option. The NSW RFS will control access to these roads. Your safety is their primary concern.

Remember your boat is your lifeline out of a disaster. Do not allow the fire to get to it before you can. Nominate a person or two in your bay to watch the boats and move them out if need be while the rest concentrate on the fire. Do not leave large gasoline tanks exposed in an open boat during a bushfire emergency.

A large natural disaster like a Bush Fire will disturb the entire eco system, including all the animals, birds, snakes, bugs and spiders. Be prepared for a few confused visitors. Leave out a bit of water and some food scraps for a couple of weeks, until their food supply begins to return.

Reports, Information and Updates for Current Fires Incidents can be found on:

http://www.bushfire.nsw.gov.au/dsp_content.cfm?CAT_ID=682

http://www.bushfire.nsw.gov.au/dsp_content.cfm?CAT_ID=195

A battery operated radio tuned to any local Radio Station will also give regular updates from the RFS.

Better still:

-   Get involved as a Berowra Waters RFS Volunteer Fire Fighter.
-   Get to know your neighbors and work out a plan of action with the RFS.
-   Give generously to the RFS collection day when they visit your house on the October long week end, and listed to the advice they carry about your property.