Pappinbarra two years on from fires

Pappinbarra bushfire February 12 2017. Photo courtesy of Emma Davis.
Pappinbarra bushfire February 12 2017. Photo courtesy of Emma Davis.

Two years on from the devastating Pappinbarra bushfires, a fire chief says the community there have worked very hard to build community engagement in relation to fires.

Stuart Robb, District Officer with the Rural Fire Service in Wauchope said that people like Lisa McLeod, a volunteer firefighter and former president of the Pappinbarra Progress Association have done a great job. 

There was a Hot Spots presentation at the weekend, with landholders looking at how they can prepare their properties for bushfire risks and 40 people came along.

Speaking on Tuesday February 12, when temperatures reached 38 degrees, Mr Robb said conditions were very similar to what they were two years ago, when the fires destroyed five properties

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“We are spending a fair amount of time communicating with the community and that seems to be having some cut-through.

“People need to have a conversation with family about bushfire survival plans.  We’re seeing a great uptake on that, and a greater awareness of bushfire in the landscape,” he said.

Recruitment is an ongoing process for the Rural Fire Service.

Stuart Robb says there are quite good numbers on the Mid North Coast, however they are always happy to speak to new recruits.  People who are interesting in volunteering should call into their local brigades.

“Even if you can only spare a couple of hours a week, every little helps,” he added.

Lisa McLeod was president of the Pappinbarra Progress Association when the fires broke out, and also a volunteer firefighter.

“Pappinbarra two years ago today was devastated by fires. My thoughts are with those families today as they go about their daily lives. Stay safe out there today, as the fire rating for today is severe,” she said.

She told the Wauchope Gazette that February 12 brings back scary memories and hectic times for the families affected by the fires.

“Every day that I drive through the valley, I look for smoke, and I look for the people who have been repairing and rebuilding.  Especially on a day like today, we RFS volunteers have got our kits with us, in case we are called out.

“A bushfire survival plan – whether to stay or go – is so vital and everybody needs to know it inside out,” she added.

Lisa is a member of Hollisdale Rural Fire Brigade which has been given land, and two grants to expand its capabilities.

Steve Taylor, captain of Beechwood Rural Fire Brigade said they always need more volunteers. 

“The brigade is coming along well and we are training up some new volunteers.

“Our old truck was replaced just before Christmas and we now have a modern, heavy tanker which is a good thing.

“There were drainage issues at the fire station, but the council dug it up and fixed it and it’s all good,” he said.

He said people are more aware about what to do next time.  

Wauchope Rotary raised more than $30,000 through club contributions, community and business appeals, and helped 33 people affected by the bushfires.

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