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In the event of wildfire: stay and defend or leave early?

Fire encroaching on a residential street: to stay or defend property is a difficult decision for those living in wildfire-prone areas
Fire encroaching on a residential street: to stay or abandon property is a difficult decision for those living in wildfire-prone areas
Whether staying and defending or leaving early, residents in bushfire prone areas must be well prepared.

Australians have typically been advised that they have a choice to 'stay-and-defend' their property during a bushfire or evacuate. Stay-and-defend plan have shown in the past that they can be effective in some conditions, if residents are well prepared and ready for the potential physical and emotional trauma associated with defending their property.

People can be unprepared for the terrifying experience of a bushfire and may choose to leave at the last minute. Many victims of bushfire die as a result of last-minute evacuations; so if you decide to leave, it is best to do so as early as possible.

Ron Coffey, Chair of the Fire Protection Association Australia's Bushfire Planning and Design (BPAD) committee recommends that any decision to stay and defend is thought through extremely carefully and based on the best advice possible.

"Leaving early does not mean leaving twenty minutes before the fire reaches you. You should choose to leave at a time where you can go casually and the roads are clear and not under threat. If you are racing from a fire, it is too late to be evacuating." Whether deciding to stay-and-defend or leave early, the key is to be well prepared and have a carefully thought out plan.

The stay-and-defend or evacuate policy is likely to be reviewed by the Royal Commission in Victoria. FPA Australia awaits the outcomes of the Royal Commission and advises anyone with further interest in the stay-and-defend strategy to visit the Country Fire Authority website - please click here to do so.

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