CFS holds inaugural Bushfire Resilience Day
The South Australian Country Fire Service will today hold its inaugural 'Bushfire Resilience Day' - a day to remember and honour lives lost to bushfires in the state, acknowledge the strength and resilience of those who have recovered and adapted to their changed lives, and to encourage positive actions for individuals and communities in preparing for the next bushfire.
Aligned to the anniversary of Ash Wednesday on 16 February 1983, Bushfire Resilience Day recognises a pivotal moment in the memories of many South Australians and one that helped shape the CFS as it is stands today.
CFS Chief Officer, Brett Loughlin AFSM, said the service will recognise the impact bushfires have had, and will continue to have, on all South Australians, while providing a platform to highlight the recovery and resilience of all South Australians.
"Today is a pivotal moment in the CFS' history, as we pause to reflect on the impact bushfires have had on our community and how far we, as state and as an agency, have come following these devastating events," Chief Officer Loughlin said.
"CFS volunteers are the backbone of our agency and ensuring their safety and wellbeing will always be of the upmost importance, so they are prepared to overcome adversity and can emerge stronger, better prepared, and ready for the next challenges in protecting their community."
"Each and every year, incidents occur across South Australia that do not register on the state's wider awareness, but for everyone in the CFS - we are there for every loss and every impact that occurs, and it is our unyielding promise that we always will be."
Since Ash Wednesday, the CFS has made significant changes and improvements with state-of-the-art equipment, a highly trained and professional volunteer base, safe systems of work and becoming a state-funded organisation to enable members to safely respond to bushfires.
CFS Para Group Officer, Rob Styling AFSM OAM, said his experience of responding to the Ash Wednesday bushfire is a stark difference from what firefighter's experience on a fireground today.
"There are now significant safety systems on trucks, our protective clothing is state of the art, we have aerial resources that can assist in understanding where the fires are going, what the fire behaviour is and we can be far more strategic in fighting fires as opposed to defend and chase as we did on Ash Wednesday," he said.
"Significant resources have been also put into mental health programs for volunteers which helps to develop resilience and support current and future firefighters."
The CFS is committed to building bushfire resilient communities by empowering people to prepare for, respond to and recover from bushfire and other emergencies.
Charleston Emergency Relief and Recovery Group Emergency Coordinator, Chris Cotton ASM said, following the Cuddlee Creek bushfire in 2019/20, he and the community wanted to create a reliable and safe space for people to gather.
"The Charleston Community Centre is more than bricks and mortar, by having a stand-alone facility to look after our community in the event of future major emergencies, we have seen the change in our community's confidence, preparedness and resilience."
During the Pinery bushfire in 2015, Rachel Ireland and her family had their lives turned upside down after discovering their home and irreplaceable mementos were destroyed by fire.
"The journey to rebuild was one of the most taxing and exhausting things I have ever attempted; so many things needed my attention all at once. However, as hard as the journey was, I have so much to be grateful for," Rachel Ireland said.
"It has helped me understand more about who I am as a person, to take less for granted, deeper wisdom, understanding and empathy, it grew me in ways I had never known I could have. All in all, it changed me, for the better and I will be forever thankful for that."