Where to Take Refuge in Your Home During a Bushfire

When you live in a bushfire-prone area you can’t ignore the danger. Most individuals and families address this necessity by preparing a bushfire survival plan. The best way to survive a bushfire is not to be there when it arrives.

For most Australian fire agencies the “leave early” policy has largely replaced the previous “stay and defend or leave early” one. This reflects an emphasis on preserving human life during a bushfire event – an emphasis that has strengthened since the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

bushfire

Even when planning to leave early, unexpected events can occur. Not being able to find a child or family pet may delay departure until it’s no longer safe to travel. Taking refuge in your home then becomes a last resort, a worst-case scenario. But this contingency is worth considering as part of your bushfire survival plan.

If you do need to take refuge inside your home during a bushfire, which parts are likely to be the safest? As part of my PhD research, I asked 252 residents living in bushfire-prone areas which parts of their houses they would shelter in during a bushfire, which parts they would avoid, and why. I then analysed the features of these locations against the known places where people died in their home during bushfires in Australia from 1901 to 2011.

Determining the safer places to shelter is further complicated as all houses are not the same. There are many different types, with large variations in design, construction materials, location and surrounding vegetation. It is therefore not possible to give absolute answers on where people should take shelter in their homes during a bushfire, but some general guidelines can be given.

Where are the safer spaces to shelter?

Upstairs is generally a more dangerous space to seek shelter during a bushfire. Upstairs levels are more difficult to escape from. Often they have large windows and sliding glass doors which are designed to capture views, but due to radiant heat and strong winds can crack and implode. Upper levels are often constructed of lightweight materials that are more flammable and vulnerable to direct flame contact from burning trees.

The ground floor is generally a safer space to shelter. The ground level usually has more external doors from which the occupant can escape. On a sloping block, however, the easiest level from which to exit may be the first floor. The ground level often has smaller windows (except those leading to entertainment areas). From the ground floor it is easier to get to the driveway and closer to an external water source such as a water tank.

People often suggest the bathroom as a good place to shelter during a bushfire. However, the bathroom can also be dangerous. During a bushfire, mains water is often cut or the pressure is reduced to a trickle. Despite having tiled walls, non-combustible fittings and a water supply, bathrooms like other rooms are vulnerable to the collapse of a burning ceiling when embers have ignited in the roof cavity.

This article was originally published by The Conversation.

Click here to read the entire article.

 

Queensland Government Ups Disaster Response Game With Gruntify

Queensland’s disaster response team has been armed with Cloud-based GIS technology and they’re never going back. There are more people than ever before in the path of wild weather, and the Queensland government has taken steps to improve their ability to act quickly. Ditching their old manual methods of reporting, they’ve adopted Gruntify.

Queensland Government Ups Disaster Response Game With Gruntify

Photo: article supplied

Gruntify is GIS People’s flagship product and provides a platform for team members in the field to acquire and upload data in real time. Queensland Government saw huge potential for Gruntify to be used in their rapid damage assessment following disasters, and the platform was set up to meet just that purpose for them. When Tropical Cyclone Debbie swept down the Queensland coast in March this year, the Gruntify technology was really put to the test.

Critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges and power lines were damaged up and down the state. To assist with quick recovery, the Gruntify mobile apps and web platform were used to collect evidence of this damage, document it, and prepare reports, so that recovery and reconstruction activities can be expedited. The recovery operation is still ongoing and Gruntify is an integral part of managing that process.

Miles Vass, Deputy Director General for the Department of Transport Queensland, called the application elegant, adding, “I’ve been leading the department’s agencies response to disasters now for about seven years. The response this time was probably the most organized and ordered that I’ve been involved with the whole time.”

Gruntify is built on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Through GIS People’s partnership with Microsoft under the CityNext program, the technology giant heard about the exciting work that the Brisbane-based company have been collaborating on with Queensland Government. Microsoft loved the project so much, they decided to film a case study. This led to a film crew flying out from the USA to Brisbane, where they conducted interviews with Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, the Deputy Director General of the Department of Transport Queensland Miles Vass, and GIS People’s CEO Jamie Leach, who spoke about Gruntify and the work that that has been done in Queensland.

The Microsoft production crew also filmed the GIS People and Queensland Government teams in action, using Gruntify in the field and in the office. This filming opportunity has given GIS People the chance to show the world what Gruntify is all about, and how this platform can be used to make lives better.

This article was originally published by Spatial Source.

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Training For a Nightmare: How First Responders Prepare For The Worst

As rescuers scanned for life in sub-zero temperatures after the Thredbo landslide, the dangerously unstable site and freezing conditions stalled search efforts and caused equipment to seize.

One of Australia’s most popular holiday spots became the site of one of our greatest tragedies when 18 people died in the landslide in 1997.

It marked a turning point in the way authorities responded to natural disasters in Australia.

disaster training

Photo: article supplied

“We’ve gone really from a system that was ad hoc and everyone was doing the best they can to a system that’s well-maintained and regulated,” Fire & Rescue New South Wales Chief Superintendent Paul Bailey said.

In 1997, Fire & Rescue NSW had about 30 urban search and rescue trained staff — now the figure is almost 10 times that.

Training and technology have both vastly improved in the past 20 years.

Australia now has two internationally accredited urban search and rescue teams, meaning they can deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.

Six hours to get in the air

The NSW team is one of two in Australia to hold classifications with United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group.

“When we’re told there’s an incident we need to be up and out of the here in six hours,” Chief Superintendent Bailey said.

“So that means getting a team of 72 people, all our equipment, which is over 36 tonnes of equipment, all together onto a cargo plane and anywhere in the world within six hours.”

Responding quickly is crucial — search and rescue crews say after around 100 hours life expectancy falls significantly.

They’ve been tested too. Firefighters say in 2011, Australian crews got to the Christchurch earthquake before some teams from Auckland.

The NSW team was deployed to the Japan earthquake and tsunami and also Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu in 2015.

To remain permanently prepared, the search and rescue teams train in gruelling and realistic scenarios.

“What we do is simulate a pancake collapse — so that’s when building floors topple on top of one another,” Fire & Rescue’s Manager of Specialised Operations Darryl Dunbar said.

“Then our crews have to make entry through those floors to gain an entry underground to access that tunnel network.”

This article was originally published by ABC.net.au.

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Facebook Trials Australian Bush Fire and Disaster Planning Feature

Facebook is trialling a location data-driven feature which it believes will help authorities combat bush fires in Australia, as well as tackling other disasters around the world, and it hopes to have the feature ready to roll out before summer.

Speaking to The Australian Financial Review while in the country for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Data Privacy Asia Pacific conference, Facebook deputy chief privacy officer Rob Sherman said the social network had been investing in ways to use data that benefited the public, such as disaster maps.

bush fire feature facebppk

Photo: article supplied

“The first 48 hours is the most critical time, but it is also the time when disaster recovery organisations lack the information on what the conditions are. They might know that an earthquake has a hit a city, but not what areas are hit hardest,” he said.

“[With Facebook’s location data] you can see on day one of a disaster that people are leaving certain areas. Then three days later you can see which areas people are returning too, indicating that recovery has begun. That lets disaster organisations understand where to deploy resources.”

Mr Sherman said tackling bush fires was a perfect use for disaster maps because when they occur there are few resources on the ground at the start. He said the map would increase the ability to track where people have evacuated, and where groups of people had stayed behind.

Facebook has already conducted trials with not-for-profit partners and it is in discussions with Australian organisations about its use. It hopes to develop an application programming interface (API) that will be accessible to law enforcement in real time, so that the feature is available as soon as a disaster strikes.

The social networking giant said it has developed the tool while maintaining the privacy of its users by applying a smoothing algorithm that captures patterns in the data.

Privacy changes

Mr Sherman left his job as a lawyer to join Facebook about five years ago, and said privacy had become increasingly embedded in all of its new products.

“We have a privacy by design approach. The idea is to have discussions about privacy early on in the product development process, often before a line of code is written,” he said.

“It’s a process that involves a lot of perspectives around the company. It involves not just legal and compliance, but product design, engineering and security.”

Facebook has been plagued for years by complaints that it is fast and loose with its users’ privacy, and has reacted in recent times by giving users more real-time prompts about the privacy of their posts and comments. Users are now frequently asked if they want to change their settings back if they swap from “friends only” to “public” for a post or vice versa.

Mr Sherman said this was recognition that people wanted more control over their privacy.

This article was originally published by Financial Review. 
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Charles Sturt University’s Doctor of Public Safety

Charles Sturt University’s Doctor of Public Safety equips graduates with a unique competitive advantage and is the first degree of its kind in Australasia. Graduates will have a critical understanding of a substantial and complex body of knowledge at the frontier of their discipline or area of professional practice.

Why study this course?

CSU’s Doctor of Public Safety meets the increasing demand of professionals in Public Safety who are looking for a Doctoral degree that enables a significant and original contribution to knowledge in the context of professional practice. Students gain substantial knowledge of research principles and methods applicable to their professional field of Public Safety, equipping them with the ongoing capacity to generate new knowledge in their professional practice.

As a professional doctorate, the Doctor of Public Safety comprises 30% coursework and 70% research. During the coursework phase students are assigned supervisors and develop solid research methodology and literature review chapters, preparing them to enter the research and dissertation phase with confidence.

Research areas

Public safety embraces a broad range of professions and activities including emergency and disaster management, public health, humanitarian relief, crisis communication, fire investigation, policing, security, border management, local government, water, electricity, NGO’s and social services.

Examples of possible research areas include various aspects of:

  • public health
  • emergency & disaster management
  • evacuation and recovery centres
  • disaster economics
  • crisis communications
  • early warning systems
  • structural and wildfire investigation
  • volunteering
  • search and rescue
  • biosecurity and pandemic response
  • leadership, management & decision making
  • aviation security
  • humanitarian relief
  • water and electricity services
  • psychosocial aspects of recovery
  • border security and management
  • community preparation and recovery

Academic expectations

There are no on-campus requirements, however there will be opportunities to attend workshops in person or online, and you will be expected to present your proposal to Faculty and peers. Overseas students will need to access via Skype or similar for this event.

Expectations relating to academic, workplace learning, time and cost requirements for specific subjects are provided in the subject abstracts and in course materials.

The Doctor of Public Safety may be studied full or part time. For a full listing of course information, expectations and contact procedures, click here.

Applications for the Doctor of Public Safety may be submitted at any time. You may wish to contact the Course Coordinator, Assoc Prof Hank Prunckun to discuss the application process.

About the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security

Established in 1993, the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security (AGSPS) is globally recognised as a leading provider of postgraduate research and education for professionals in law enforcement, counterterrorism, and security and emergency management studies.

Our students learn to meet the complex challenges faced by professionals in a fast changing world and develop the creative intellectual capacity and skills that are sought to fill senior positions in policing, compliance, security, emergency management and fire investigation agencies.

We recognise that busy professionals require access to high quality courses that are intellectually rigorous and challenging, but that fit with career and lifestyle commitments. Our courses are designed to provide this intellectual rigour and online learning offers the flexibility to study when it suits you.

Here are a number of other CSU courses which may interest you. As with the Doctor of Public Safety, all study is completed by distance and most courses have mid-year and summer session intakes.

Master of Emergency Management

Emergency management has become recognised as a distinct field of study that is required for progression to senior and executive levels of management in statutory emergency services, community and health services, and local government. Students undertake a study of recent advances influencing emergency and risk management through the conduct of a research project which includes a comprehensive literature search and analysis.

Graduates are encouraged to apply for entry into the Doctor of Public Safety.

For a full listing of course information, expectations and contact procedures, click here.
Bachelor of Emergency Management

The Bachelor of Emergency Management is designed to respond to all sectors of industry, commerce and government that have an interest in asset management and asset protection, through furthering educational opportunities for those working in the disciplinary field of risk management.

For a full listing of course information, expectations and contact procedures, click here.

 

Bachelor of Public Safety and Security

New to CSU, this course looks to further the education of practitioners already working in the field.

For a full listing of course information, expectations and contact procedures, click here.

Application details to commence a Master or Bachelor course are located here. Apply today.

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This blog is a paid advertisement for Charles Sturt University.

Drones Delivering Emergency Blood Could Save Lives

A northern beaches doctor who delivers critical care to patients in remote areas of the state says drones transporting blood could save lives.

Dr Brian Burns, 43, will make the case at an international conference in Germany.

He will be the first speaker at the Social Media and Critical Care (SMACC) conference in Berlin­. drones

The Royal North Shore Hospital emergency department doctor said he had watched in frustration at the time it could take to get blood to trauma victims in more remote parts of NSW.

As a regular on board the NSW Ambulance and Toll Rescue Helicopter, delivering critical care and retrieval for patients across the state, Dr Burns has seen many horrific scenes.

He said drones could be a vital tool in emergency blood delivery.

“I’ve done jobs as far away as west of Bourke … the challenge of this country is that not everyone lives near a trauma hospital and we need to harness technology to give everyone the best chance of survival, regardless of where they live,” he said.

“Getting blood products to a scene quickly can be the difference between life and death. Blood products are an emergency lifeline.

“If any country is going to be innovative in this area, it’ll be Australia because of the distances involved. Challenges foster innovation.”

Under Dr Burns’ vision­, drones bearing lifesaving blood could be dispatched from the nearest big hospital, ensuring supplies arrive at the scene at the same time or before doctors and paramedics arrive in a helicopter.

This article was originally published by the Daily Telegraph.

Click here to read the entire article.

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