Australian Royal Commission told to abandon “stay or go”

Here is an excerpt from the AAP:

The policy that people in well-prepared homes can save their property and their lives in the face of a raging bushfire is a myth and should be abandoned, the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission has heard.

The stay or go policy failed the community on Black Saturday because many people who prepared to stay and defend their homes were killed, lawyers assisting the commission said.

But the state government’s solicitor argued it was still safer for people to shelter in houses during a bushfire than be caught in the open when trying to flee at the last minute.

The commission has been told that 113 of 173 people killed in the February 7, 2009 bushfires died sheltering in homes.

Senior Counsel assisting the commission, Jack Rush, QC, said the government’s policy didn’t work because many people don’t make preparations to stay and defend, and fewer left early.

He said the assertion in the stay or go policy that “people protect houses, houses protect people” was a myth and the policy should be abandoned.

“We call for a replacement of the policy with a new policy based around evacuation as the primary protective action for a community that is threatened by fire.

“If evacuation is not possible, shelter options should be available to all communities that are threatened by fire.”

Thanks Dick

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

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