Bush Fires and Business Continuity – Has Anything Really Changed?

Should you stay or should you go? That’s the big question in thinking out preparedness and plans for disaster recovery and business continuity in the event of a bush fire. In Australia, the damage done in 2009 in Victoria sparked off new debates about the right choice between staying to defend property against bush fires, or evacuating to a safer place. Key figures including fire chiefs, politicians and subject matter experts had differing points of view – but is it truer to say that whatever the choice, it still comes down to a couple of fundamental points?

With the bush fires of 2012 and 2013 as the new backdrop to the debate, whether your plan involves staying or leaving will depend on how well prepared you are. A common point made is that potential points of failure such as electricity power supplies need to be considered as part of your planning for business continuity. Using water pumps that can function “off grid” and basic landline telephones instead of cordless ones are two examples: older style phones can function off the limited power in the phone line itself to receive emergency warnings, whereas cordless phones also require the electricity mains supply which may become unavailable.

State governments for Victoria and South Australia currently recommend that all concerned make their emergency plans in advance, as part of overall business continuity. However, they do not seek to impose any particular choice of plan, other than the one that is most appropriate and the safest for preserving human life. The emphasis for organisations and individuals is on activating the right plans early, and sticking to them, if confronted by potential or real outbreaks of bush fire. The danger to be avoided is in last minute changes that can wreck people’s physical and psychological preparedness.