20 November 2009

Catastrophe averted....

Thank goodness yesterday, which the authorities here deemed to be, at least for some of the state, a day of "catastrophic" fire danger, passed without fatalities caused by fires. (There were alas several road deaths)

There has been some confusion about the additional fire damage rating of catastrophic which has been superimposed on the existing ones (supplanting extreme) . Though there's a Cape Catastrophe on Eyre Peninsula near the proclaimed area I'm not convinced that everyone understands this multisyllabic term and what it means when it is invoked. Is it really necessary, I wonder? Whatever words are used and no matter how effectively warnings are communicated in a high fire risk situation each person usually has to make their own decision about whether to stay or leave.

The last couple of days have once again shown the value of a free to air public broadcaster for keeping people informed in emergency situations. The ABC staff were generally well informed about SA place names and their pronunciation, while Sky News persisted in mispronouncing "Wirrabara". one of the YHA's 20 Frequently Mispronounced Australian Destinations even though a local fire official appearing on its news programs pronounced it correctly.

I also wasn't too impressed with the inability of the SA Police media liaison person to provide ABC radio yesterday afternoon with the CFS hotline phone number. You'd think they'd have it if not in their mind then in front of them. A small matter perhaps, but possibly indicative of some gaps in interagency cooperation which need to be plugged before the next emergency.

No comments: