“I probably got most involved in firefighting since the ‘07 fires. I realised that I was more agile. Farm firefighting is the ability to go places where the truck can’t and also the responsibility you take on is just for you. Once you’re on a truck you are part of a team and you are then responsible for each other’s lives. I like the agility of the farm firefighting unit and a little less heavy responsibility. Particularly when you hear stories of trucks that are lost and multiple have been injured or killed in it. I am fearful of that.
2020 was completely different fire behaviour to what Kangaroo island usually has. I have probably lit fires since I was old enough to strike matches, and it was nothing I have ever seen—fire that moved like a storm like that—it was brand-new.
Heaps to be learned from the way fires are going to be burning from now on.
I was involved in three burn overs in total.
The eyewear is just critical because you can’t do anything if you can’t see. Grass fires have been the worst. You might think ‘it’s just a bit of grass’ but the grass fire smoke, as soon as you got it in your eyes, you’re finished. You need to go and wash your eyes and rest them. Lots of people got hot coals down their necks along their clothing. Every gear you have is amazing but must haves are goggles, gloves and a hard hat if you can get hold of one.
I am pretty nervous because we had amazing rains, we’re gonna have huge spring growth, and we’ve got a large portion of frightened people. We have to be realistic that we will see those sort of fire conditions pop up again; it’s not something that’s only gonna happen as a one-off in a hundred years. I am a bit nervous that we forget our lessons so quickly. I think we made mistakes that need to be rectified as soon as we can. I am watching the growth on all of our native veg and plantation timber coming back with vigour and that is going to be a bushy shrub-type forrest now that will carry fire better this time on the edges. I think there is a lot to be looked at in the coming fire season.”