Laurie Wood

Laurie is one of our Directors, and as well as his full-time employment he serves as a dedicated volunteer with the Rural Fire Service.

Spring is the time of year I love most, life is in the air – the sights, smells and noises of new things growing, learning and living. It also brings the threat of fire, as forewarned in the Spring 2023 Seasonal Bushfire Outlook.

I grew up on Yuin country, joining the Rural Fire Service when I was 16. My school bus driver was the local fire captain and since leaving school I’ve worked or volunteered in bushfire management my whole life. I’ve fought fire across NSW, Victoria, the ACT, Tasmania and even deploying to Canada in 2017. Nothing could prepare me for my family property burning in February 2020, a few days before the rains came. Driving down that road that I’d known for the better part of 30 years, it looked like every burnt rural road I’d seen. Except I knew every bump, rock, tree and bend. It was visceral and haunting and beautiful and for months I drove down that road in my sleep until I spent the better part of half a year talking to a psychologist.

The lessons of the 2019/20 bushfire season are as important now as ever, as the anxiety of the first serious fire season since then is felt. Mental and physical preparedness is key – discuss with family what to do if a bushfire threatens your home, prepare your home and get it ready for bushfire season, know the bushfire alert levels and keep informed via official channels. During or after a fire or similar disaster, if you think you are, or are becoming, affected, seek help – start with a trusted friend or family member but know there are many avenues for support available.

Get involved in your local area, it doesn’t have to be on a firetruck, connected communities are more resilient and have better outcomes during disasters. While fires are a clear and present danger to us and look and feel scary, heat is the most lethal natural hazard in Australia. Look out for vulnerable members of our community, the young and old, those with preexisting medical conditions and of course our pets and farm animals. Get familiar with the Bureau of Meteorology’s Heatwave Service and the Heatwave Knowledge Centre for information about how to understand and prepare for heatwaves.

Most of all enjoy the spring and plan for the worst, but remember to live for the best.