Video by Malcolm McKinnon, featuring Dianne Simmons at Christmas Hills, Victoria.
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Dianne Simmons is captain of the Country Fire Authority at Christmas Hills on the outskirts of Melbourne.
Like many other locals, she moved to this area attracted by the bush and the semi-rural lifestyle. She understands however that bushfire is an ever-present hazard. Here, she weighs up the risks associated with making a home in this kind of environment.
DIANE SIMMONS: I came into the area about 30 years ago, and really there's nowhere else in the whole area where you get to meet people. So there's no general store, there's no news agent, there's no petrol station. So, the message was, if you're going to know anyone in the area, join the fire brigade.
I think back in the late '70s, 30 odd years ago, when a large number of people moved into this area, it was very unusual for CFA brigades to have, also, a strong conservation ethic.
And I think one of the things we were always struggling with was trying to reconcile the need that you often have as a firefighter. To manage a fire, put it out, that meant cutting down a tree, because you need to go home.
We often wondered whether we could do things better, and maintain our conservation ethic, and try and manage fires in a better way to have minimum impact on the environment. And as part of that we came up with this idea of the red truck and a green hat. So we've had that as our brigade motto, whatever you want to call it, for really a very long time now. And I think many people in the brigade still relate to that as a brigade ethos.
We are in a fire prone environment, but there are ways to mitigate that risk. I guess after 2009, many people say, life is sacrosanct. That no one should take risk with their life. I'm not sure that I personally agree with that.
Perhaps it is an acceptable risk that some people, me even, might lose their life in an extraordinary event. We send soldiers to Afghanistan. We want them all to come home. Sometimes they don't.
We want to live in the Bush. We want everyone to survive every fire. Sometimes they don't. I mean, for me, sometimes that's the sort of way that I think about living in a place that means a great deal to me personally, but does carry a level of risk that I hope I mitigate to an acceptable level.
If you want to live in a particular sort of environment, then you have to have the good with the bad. And you accept that you have, perhaps, a higher level of risk. If you don't want that risk, maybe it's not about changing the environment entirely. Maybe you would be happier living somewhere else where there was a lower level of risk.
So I think there is that sense of entitlement that you can have everything where you live. And perhaps that's not true.