Written 5 September, 2020
I’d invited Dave MacMonnies of the large Berowra RFS to come and tell us what we need to do to protect ourselves against a raging fire. It’s not just a matter of getting in our little boats and fleeing. Last summer, the huge Gospers Mountain fire was 30 kms away, (which sounds far but is nothing in the bush), we were right in its path, just the narrow reaches of the upper Marra Marra creek as a firebreak – and it raged for weeks and weeks.
If we flee in the night, with the air full of blinding smoke, we might crash into RFS rescue boats rushing to save us. And if there’s a low tide one dangerous night, fleeing is impossible.
Last summer, we couldn’t bear to stay away from the bay all those weeks and one night, there was an extreme low tide at 2 AM. I stayed up all night when GG who loves his sleep went off to bed. My plan if the fire came was to wake GG and drag him by the feet down the jetty, and fall into the mud, sinking slowly, but at least the mud would provide a fire break though the jetty would burn behind us- perhaps up to us. I’m the first to admit it wasn’t much of a plan. If we’d had to use it, we’d be dead.
So we gathered around Dave MacMonnies and the Berowra RFS. I was the only person wearing a mask. Perhaps everyone else thought that they were safe. I’m as scared of the fires as I am of the virus. Dave suggested we all buy a water pump that can spray water from the river and up the hill 30 metres. Of course the blokes showed they could work it in front of us all. I have trouble figuring out how to work a new coffee percolator! Machines and I have never been allies. I crept around to T.
Do you feel comfortable with all this? I asked him.
It’s so pleasant when he’s nearby.
I flinch at the knowing laughter if I joint queue to try to use the hose, these competent but kindly people. i can’t bet it if they pitied me.
But when fire threatens, we must know how to set it up and get it working.
Later, I offered to show him T to burn off fire in his 44 gallon drum.
I’d love that!
But we must everyone of us be fire competent.
I’ll ask Gg to train us up, T and I, on using our own fire hose, when no one else is around. And we can fumble, till we know what to do. We all know that everyone in the bay must be competent. Anything may happen, and life depends on knowing how. It’ll be as important as knowing how to use a mask. More.