Saturday, December 17, 2011

Central Control

Bushfire raging pretty much out of control. By now it has burned several hundred thousand acres, and has even rated a (passing) mention on the news.

Only a passing mention, because it is burning hundreds & hundreds of miles from both the capital city of the state, and the coast. It is not even burning within a hundred miles of the nearest town.

It would become a newsworthy bushfire if it met one of the following criteria:
(a) It started burning down the houses of people who are too silly to put in firebreaks & other precautions.
(b) It was a "bit closer" to civilisation so that journalists could cover the story, i.e. handy to commercial accommodation, telephones, etc.
(c) It was fought by uniformed "firefighters" who use a "procedures manual" & come equipped with a spokesman, office, press conferences, fire trucks with fancy paint jobs & flashing lights, etc.
(d) The firefighters were making lots of mistakes, perhaps even managing to burn a couple of "fire trucks" or even a firefighter or two.

Instead the fire was in country where the few inhabitants were wise to fires, and no buildings or civilian lives were so much as threatened, never mind burned.

The fire was being fought by locals, using equipment that was selected for functionality, not for the words "Fire Truck" stencilled on the side.

Those fighting the fire knew how the fire would respond to any given conditions & were not taking risks with their lives. Their command structure was as simple as deferring to the man whose judgement they most respected.

The fire was still burning, & was out of control, nobody was taking it lightly, but they felt that they'd be able to contain it without loss of life or property, & no more than a couple of thousand square miles burned to cinders.

This wasn't good enough for Central Fire Control in the state capital city. They issued command after command, which those on the scene had the good sense to ignore.

Boiling with indignation at being ignored by a bunch of hicks, an expert from Central Fire Control rushed to the scene to take command of the situation. (Well, it took a day for him to arrive.)

Upon arrival the expert displayed an official letter or some sort of trump card that established he was now "in command" of this fire & had the full force of the law behind him.

His first act as Commander was a display of incompetence, hubris, & inexperience. He set out to "inspect" the fire (several hundred thousand acres & still burning, in rough impassable country)

The first thing he did on his "inspection" run was to promptly burn himself to death.

Within an hour of arriving on the scene.

The attention of Central Fire Control was now occupied with the "sad loss" of one of their own, they paid no more attention to the fire, or how it was fought, or anything.

Thus, idiotic diversion nipped in the bud, everybody promptly went back to fighting the fire.

Without any loss of life or property.


Boy on a bike said...

Without any further loss of life or property.

kae said...

I have contacts in the bushfire brigade, locals who know the areas and the people they work for, voluntarily of course.

These bushfire brigade people hate it when the city 'managers' butt in on a fire situation and start issuing orders on what they should do.

Sort of ends up like the debacle which was the Black Saturday* fires in Victoria - and most other cases where loss of life and/or injury are involved on a large scale. The way to save lives in the situation where a semi remote bushfire is being fought is to ignore the orders from the city office and use local knowledge to keep everyone fighting the fire safe.

*I do admit that these fires were unusual with the flamable load on the ground much higher than it had been in the past.

JeffS said...

Darwin had a point, didn't he?