Monday, 11 July 2016

Tree down...tree down...tree down...

I get a news feed from the Country Fire Service (the Country Fire Authority in some places). In summer it alerts me to news about fires.  There is sometimes other news as well - vehicle accidents, flooding, salvage, rescue etc. for which they have all been called out appear. This morning there is a long string of "tree down" notices.
I am not surprised there are some. These will be trees that have fallen across roads in country areas. People will have reported them. The CFS volunteers will be out there in the wind and rain clearing the tree away. They will be using very dangerous equipment in very dangerous conditions.
Almost all the trees will be gums of one sort or another. These trees are notorious for dropping limbs, especially after a long hot summer. Entire trees can go too. I watched one fall once. Fortunately for me and everything else it was on the far side of a large and otherwise open space. Nothing around it was damaged. 
It is not, as many people seem to think, simple work. You cannot just send a couple of people up with a chainsaw, cut the tree into neat little bits and dump those bits back on the side of the road. It doesn't work like that. Sometimes there are overhead power lines involved. The power needs to be turned off somewhere else. The road may be damaged. A car may have been under the tree or hit the tree as it came around a bend in the road too quickly to stop. It will need to be removed. Some of the tree may need to be removed from the site. If the entire tree has not fallen it has to be inspected. Is the rest of it safe? Is there anything else which might fall? What about the area surrounding the tree? Has anything else been damaged? If the limb has fallen on a house is the structure safe an can a tarpaulin of some sort be put over the damage until someone else can get to it? 
The Premier of a neighbouring state has tried to put volunteer firefighters under the authority of the professional urban firefighters. The situation is still not resolved. It's a political dispute and one the Premier would do well to back down on because the volunteers who do this sort of work are vital. They don't volunteer for the fun of it. They volunteer because the safety of their community depends on their skills. Their skills are much wider and more varied than those of their urban counterparts. They, along with their other emergency service volunteers, save the country hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
We shelter under these volunteers - more than the Premier seems to realise.


jeanfromcornwall said...

I have encounered the fallout from a fallen gum tree - or, to be more accurate, a branch. A neighbour had a small one in his garden, and a storm half detached a large branch. OH offered to cut it off and cut it up, and doing that produced a nasty "paste" around the chain of his saw. Not realising how it would behave, he didn't deal with it straight away, and it set rock hard in the chain, which had to be replaced.
Never going near a Eucalyptus again was his response.

Anonymous said...

The local knowledge and expertise of volunteers is frequently underestimated.

As is the amount of unpaid work they do.