Update on the fires in Australia

Our correspondent down-under brings us up-to-date on the recent catastrophic fires in the state of Victoria. Pat Naughtin wrote on 5 March:

“The fires in my home state of Victoria are now (after almost a month) just about under control. There are only three fires still burning out of the 300 that were burning on February 7, and the remaining three are not threatening any towns and are surrounded by fire breaks.

210 lives were lost,
2029 properties were destroyed,
78 townships were affected, and
400 000 + hectares were burned.

All reporting of all fires was done using metric units. If you were given any other figures (say by news media in the USA) then these were dumbed down by the news media reporters. In a sense, you are being treated like children who need to be protected from the big bad metric world! Hhhrrrmmmph! In all Australian fire services, metric units are mandatory. It is far too dangerous to try to use multiple measuring methods when your life is immediately threatened by fire. Multiple measures can mean death! In the Fire Service of the state of New South Wales (NSW), the use an old pre-metric measure in training or at a fire has been regarded as a ‘reportable offence’ since the early 1970s.

Here is a report from ‘The Age’ newspaper (http://www.theage.com.au/national/heavens-open-and-a-hellish-season-ends-20090304-8oif.html ) that shows some of the NSW fire fighters on their way home last night giving the ‘thumbs-up’ sign of success. These are a small part of the 1000 fire fighters who came from other states to help us here in Victoria. There are also many fire fighters from New Zealand, Canada, and the USA (usually from the states of California and Washington) who will also begin to go home soon.

The management of the remaining fires will be done by the Country Fire Authority (CFA) of Victoria. The CFA is one of the world’s largest volunteer fire fighting organisations. It services more than 150 000 square kilometres and about 3 million people. The CFA has approximately 58 000 active volunteers with almost 1200 career fire fighters and support staff.

Note that we use hectares to measure the size of fires here. This means that a small fire 100 metres by 100 metres is a one hectare fire and all other fires are given in simple whole numbers of hectares. There are no fractions (no vulgar or common fractions and no decimal fractions) when you are measuring bush fires in Australia.”

Note about the author.

Pat Naughtin, metric system consultant, writer, and speaker, has helped thousands of people and hundreds of companies upgrade to the modern metric system smoothly, quickly, and economically, so that they now save thousands each year when buying, processing, or selling for their businesses. Pat provides services and resources for many different trades, crafts, and professions for commercial, industrial and government metrication leaders in Asia, Europe, and in the USA. Pat’s clients include the Australian Government, Google, NASA, NIST, and the metric associations of Canada, the UK, and the USA. See http://www.metricationmatters.com for more metrication information, contact Pat at pat.naughtin@metricationmatters.com or to get the free ‘Metrication matters’ newsletter go to: http://www.metricationmatters.com/newsletter to subscribe.

Author: UK Metric Association

Campaigning for a single, rational system of measurement

One thought on “Update on the fires in Australia”

  1. The real sad part is the loss of life. An old grammar school school friend living in Whittlesea, north of Melbourne, Victoria, had this to say (EXACTLY as he sent it, at a time of great stress for him):

    “The fire missed up by about 500m due to a last minute wind change. Fire chief pulled up said I had 10 mins to get out…. Had been connecting up Cvan and loading up with stuff for 2hrs thinking it may come my way. The fire front was travelling at 80-100km/hr the people ahead did not know it was coming travelled 20-30km in about 10 mins. Will report back later.”

    “May be back at house tonight? Will see what we can do to help with accommodation etc. The fire may come back our way in next few days?

    Suzy was at work when I had to leave prob just as well as 2 panicking would have been to stressfull!! Temp was 47C then 100km hour winds just as fire was going by up the side of mountain.

    My next door neighbour died going back to his house 2km away 3 hrs after front had gone by. The paddock opposite the house belongs to him and his family, they also have the vegitable farm shop opposite side of main rod to us.”

    Very sad for those affected by all this.


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