Eaton community meeting held to raise awareness after pre-Christmas fires

Claudette RizziSouth Western Times
The view of the fire from the evacuation centre at the Eaton Recreation Centre.
Camera IconThe view of the fire from the evacuation centre at the Eaton Recreation Centre. Credit: Oliver Lane/RegionalHUB

In just weeks since bushfires came close to destroying their homes, Eaton residents have failed to show up to an expert community forum to help them prepare for future emergencies.

At the community meeting on Friday, the number of residents attending was more than doubled by the 15 Department of Fire and Emergency Services staff there to provide information and assist them.

One of the Eaton residents who did go along, Dardanup councillor Annette Webster, believed the apparent apathy by the community could more be the result of poor communication about the meeting.

“I would have liked to have seen more (community) members there,” she said.

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“Maybe there is a better way we can work on getting it out so people know when there is a meeting occurring. “

The meeting at the Eaton Fire Brigade facility came about two weeks after bushfires burned up to the back fences of Eaton homes and scorched 71ha.

At the height of the blaze on the December 21 that started on the intersection of Eaton Drive and Forrest Highway, dozens of residents were evacuated to an emergency centre.

Ms Webster said it would be great if the Shire could work closer with DFES to get the message out about a meeting before every fire season.

“Being someone who was in the red zone I think we were all looked after really well, I felt secure. DFES do a fantastic job,” she said.

DFES community preparedness advisor for the South West, Haley Hibbitt said the community meeting was about explaining how being prepared before an emergency can help reduce stress and assist residents to make good decisions in an emergency.

“We need more community members to create their bushfire plans using the My Bushfire Plan app and ensure they understand the bushfire warnings from Emergency WA, ” she said.

Ms Hibbitt said the Eaton Fire Brigade volunteers inspired the event from discovering residents needed to know more about fire danger warnings and being challenged themselves fighting the fire.

“At the core of it, get to know your neighbours, work out how you can help each other and share your bushfire plans,” she said.

“What if your neighbour can’t drive, you can’t get home to collect your pets or your children are home alone? Talk to each other about your plans and make decisions before a bushfire starts.”

For more information visit dfes.wa.gov.au or contact DFES to join the Bushfire Ready Program to connect with the community.

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