I gave a 3MT on 4 July 2017 at the Bushfire & Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre Showcase in Adelaide. You can listen to the audio at: http://www.bnhcrc.com.au/resources/presentation-audio-video/3834
This is the text of my presentation, which is given strictly within three minutes, using one slide only and without notes. My slide is also below.
HOW TO BECOME BUSHFIRE-PREPARED WITHOUT REALLY NOTICING: BE FIRE-FIT! WEEKLY IS WORTH IT!
It is widely acknowledged that preparedness for bushfires, and other hazards, is persistently too low. My research is about building a culture of preparedness – to be “fire-fit” – as a routine part of everyday life – as routine as buying the groceries or putting fuel in a car. It becomes a ‘social norm’ that can help save human life.
Climate change is the biggest public health risk of the 21st century. Severe weather events are the new normal. We can save human lives, reduce psychosocial trauma and everything that goes with it (including the massive costs) by making people and communities fire-fit.
I talked to my research participant groups – emergency responders and the owners of any kind of animal – on South Australia’s bushfire at-risk Lower Eyre Peninsula, to come up with ways to help make this happen. These are some of my recommendations from my research findings:
- Create a new type of workplace leave which I’ve called: Catastrophic Day Leave, giving employees the ability to trade other leave or overtime specifically for the purpose of putting their survival plans into action. This can be written into individual employee contracts.
- Give new residents a financial incentive to attend fire-safe seminars by offering a significant discount on their second year’s council rates.
- Reward “best-practice”
- identify excellence in property preparedness
- give rebates independent of Emergency Services levies
- use bushfire compliance to value-add to properties at point of sale
- hold fire-ready open days – like open garden schemes
- give public awards for Bushfire Best-Prepared towns
- Review the use of fire breaks on farms and rural living blocks
- maybe with a by-law?
- a little shared loss could mean a lot of people are safer
- consider planting more flammable crops further away from valuable infrastructure and assets
- Use the social microclimate to advantage – syncing multiple sources of synergistic information from
- The workplace
- The family
- Resource sharing – because available funds are not becoming any easier to find
These encourage MEDIUM to LONG term changes to public health and safety policy and bushfire preparedness behaviour.
Make Catastrophic Day leave an optional, but FORMAL type of workplace leave.
Give new people easily accessible fire safety information and reward them for joining in.
Publicly acknowledge best practice.
Give farmers incentive to put in firebreaks, and think about crop placement.
Maximise the potential of multiple social microclimates.
New, straightforward public policy, can help achieve this so that effective fire-fitness becomes just another part of daily life.
I really enjoyed giving the 3MT. There were five other BNHCRC student 3MT’s on the first day of the meeting, and all presentations were very well done.