Preparing for the big dry on the city fringe

Community Fire Unit volunteer walking with a child in a fireman's helmet

Across the bush capital many of us live on the urban interface, that intersection between suburbia and the natural open space. It’s that sense of open bushland that is so appealing, bringing with it endless opportunities to connect with nature.

What a remarkable city we live in where you can literally wander out your front door and be absorbed in such a rich and diverse natural setting. Where you can witness kangaroos going about their business, cockatoos nesting up high or an echidna feasting on a nest of ants. This type of unique experience underpins the essence of life in the nation’s capital.

However, it’s getting dry out there. With so much natural bushland surrounding our beautiful city there comes a certain level of responsibility, the need for a heightened sense of situational awareness, of the threat from bushfires. After all, we live in a fire prone landscape.

Following the fire storm of 2003, the Emergency Services Agency initiated a wonderful community-based bushfire safety program known as Community Fire Units. These units are strategically located on the urban interface. They are made up of trained local residents who work with ACT Fire & Rescue to safeguard their homes, their neighbours’ homes and their community in the event of a bushfire impacting on the urban edge. These neighbourhood volunteers engender a real sense of community spirit.

Each volunteer is skilled in the use of firefighting equipment, the intricacies of operating a portable pump, radio communications and fire behaviour, as well as personal safety. A fully equipped, dedicated fire trailer is supplied to each Community Fire Unit. The highly visible trailers are tactically located in local streets at the urban interface, ready to be activated at a moment’s notice.

While 1 September marks the first day of spring, it coincides with the first day of the 2018/19 bushfire season, which has been brought forward a month this year. Without significant rain, it’s going to be a long, challenging summer ahead.

In preparation, Community Fire Units across the bush capital are reaching out this Saturday to their neighbours and their community, conducting information sessions to raise awareness of the season ahead.

With this extraordinary fire season upon us, it’s timely you consider your own Bushfire Survival Plan so you can prepare, act and survive a wildfire threatening your home.

If you would like to make real difference protecting your home and our community from bushfire threat, check out the location of your local Community Fire Unit by visiting

Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks & Conservation Service.

Brett Mac

Brett McNamara - Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation Service

Brett loves our national parks almost as much as the Gang-gang on his uniform. He is prone to using the word 'majestic' when referring to the bush capital. He loves talking. A lot. His favourite animal is the playful platypus.

Article also appeared on 28 August 2018 in The Chronicle