The Fiery Toolbox
The Fiery Toolbox
Film by Malcolm McKinnon
Contact Malcolm McKinnonCopyright
Lance Robilliard has lived and worked all his life on a dairy farm near Camperdown in western Victoria.
Fire has always been a part of the toolbox he uses to manage things on the farm. Here, he reflects on the knowledge required to work safely with fire and laments the fact that, today, many people seem to have lost this knowledge.
LANCE ROBILLIARD: Growing up, I mostly was educated with a chainsaw in one hand a box of matches in the other. And when I was old enough to get around the farm and help Father clean up trees and that, you soon got the idea. And if you did something wrong, you'd find yourself either getting a bit scorched or burning the tips or your fingers, or you soon learned that fire had the other side attached to it, that it can hurt. Like Dad used to say, it's a very good servant but a shocking master.
If you've had to use fire as a tool, it becomes second nature. Whereas unfortunately, other people who are not associated with the land or the forest, yeah, they might think they can light a fire-- and they can. Everyone can strike a match. But sometimes, that's where it ends-- and sometimes, unfortunately, not in the right direction.
There is a skill to the art of lighting safe fires. There's no two ways about it. And something which-- as the shift of the population to our cities and not being allowed to burn in our cities, a lot of these skills are being lost.
Those who haven't been connected with it, I think, have lost the skills. I see some funny things, even in the local community, where someone will try and light a fire, and it doesn't matter what they'll do, they've got no hope. That fire's not going to burn. He hasn't presented the material right, and he's more likely to do more harm to himself, because he's going to get angry. And he's going to get at it with accelerants, and then he's going to find himself being scorched.
It doesn't hurt to take notice, when you're with somebody, when they are lighting a fire, just to-- it doesn't hurt to ask a few questions. Because it's knowledge that one day you might need, to safely do some burning work yourself without creating a nightmare of red firetruck turning up to your place, and looking very embarrassed because you've just set fire to the neighbors. There's a right way and a wrong way. And Dad used to say, think twice and act once. [CHUCKLES]