After reading Robert Manne’s article (‘Why We Weren’t Warned’, July), I would be very interested to know if the “leave early or stay and die” policy he refers to is the same as “prepare, stay and defend”, or if it is something new. I have listened at length to John Gledhill, Chief Officer of the Tasmanian Fire Service, about the “prepare, stay and defend” strategy. From Manne’s description they sound similar, except he seems to have overlooked the importance of the “prepare” portion. In fact, he barely mentions it at all. I agree with the “prepare, stay and defend” policy, as long as an education program is in place to explain what it means. Fire services today are in no position to deal with situations of the magnitude seen in Victoria this year or in Flagler County, Florida, in 1998. We are going to have to become more like our ancestors, who did not expect a fire truck to appear whenever a fire approached. They took prophylactic action to keep fires from occurring. Climate change is going to make this a necessity. Anyone who says otherwise is only fooling themselves.
Fire Management Administrator
Florida Division of Forestry, Florida, USA