Posted by: Bruce | February 20, 2012

Anniversary 7/2/2012; Black Saturday Bushfires 2009, Victoria. What about next time?


Around February 7, I watched an account from an Australian guy on “I Survived”. He survived the Black Saturday fires, just. His pain also survives, his face, despite the smiles, really told the story.

His wife and two young sons did not survive. All were at the same building.

He only guesses the reason for his life being spared; he sheltered between two small she-oak trees, an old bushy from way back had said they don’t burn in bushfires, get between them.

A documentary also aired around the same time and this really got the message home about the destruction of life and property.

Again I wondered about fire bunkers, a chance at surviving if you couldn’t get away. On 14/5/2010 I posted my thoughts about the subject of fire shelters/bunkers knowing that many people in the USA survive cyclones in purpose built basements. The inquiry into the bushfires and the Stay or Go Policy prompted my post.

I sent a message to NSW Fire Services media guy via Twitter (in May 2010) and his reply offhandedly dismissed fire shelters as an option; thanks for straining yourself on less than 140 characters, buddy. I found it an odd reply; maybe the guy thought I was odd for asking about fire shelters.

Anyway, in pursuit of my interest in fire shelters I found some interesting stuff including a story of bomb shelters in Toowoomba, QLD; a link below to the Chronicle if you are interested.

I wondered a little on them and considered just how good they would have been against a bomb. Some Sydneysiders had them too.

I found what appeared to be a site for fire shelters, only to leave it knowing that the site was a glossy fake; a lot of dipsticks out there preying on misery.

I found and checked out another site;

This one looked legitimate and very interesting. The company manufactures and installs fire safety bunkers in Victoria and elsewhere. After checking it out I decided to leave a message via their contact page asking for information; in particular, had any of their bunkers been put through their paces in real life? The acknowledgment of my message said that I would be contacted by a representative in the near future.  I think this was on Friday night or Saturday.

I was a little surprised that on Sunday morning I received a  phone call from a Mr Anthony Tratt, owner of Wildfire Safety Bunkers Pty Ltd.

I informed Mr Tratt of the reason for my contact (my own interest and of course my blog post) and he provided plenty of information; he also sounded dedicated to his company’s product.

I explained that my blog has an annual readership of about 2, possibly 3 people but I would like to put in a link to his company anyway. He was happy for me to do this and still gave me a fair slice of his time. His company is in Victoria.

Mr Tratt, amongst other things, emphasised that his company is the only one in Victoria that has accreditation for their product. He said it is better to not be near bushfires but with their bunkers you have a chance. No real experiences in one of their bunkers have yet occurred. Still, I think it’s great to see that such a product exists and to the NSW Fire Services media spokesman who dismissed the thought, …

Some of my questions were answered this time as I prepared this post. If I lived in the bush Iwould be thinking of one of these shelters, a chance of surviving if needed, before I bought a second car or a swimming pool. I know, too, that I would not be staying to protect my property. I’d rather live to fight another day. Just in case the question is asked; no, I do not have any financial interest in this company. Not a bad idea though because it seems like a goer to me. Below is a copy of my post from May 2010.

Black Saturday Bushfires, Victoria;…..Stay or Go Policy.The Royal Commission heard its last witness on 10/5/10 and now the wait for the findings on the Black Saturday tragedy of bush fires of 7/2/09.

What can be done to save lives, give someone just a chance at surviving? There will always be bush fires and sadly someone, again, may not be able to flee a raging fire. How can you outrun something that looks like this?

Super scary stuff.

Disaster documentaries on in the USA grab my attention in one particular area.  A lot of homes featured have basements or purpose built rooms dedicated for sheltering during such life threatening visits by nature.

I wonder. Why can’t we Aussies build dedicated shelters in bush fire prone areas? There are clever people in this country, it can be done. The technology is probably good enough, money may be a problem and feasibility a question (in regards to function).

Fire proof shelters (or fire resistant for certain times) is what I’m suggesting. A particular room in a house, a basement, a stand alone shelter near the house.  Perhaps above ground or below or in between, but accessible and preferably away from fuel.

How about a different type of Town Hall? A multi-purpose community hall that doubles as a serious shelter against fire. In war torn countries, underground bomb shelters were the go. A purpose built Town Hall, perhaps underground, semi submerged, whatever, and away from fuel. A network of Town Halls across the fire prone areas could be built, equipped and maintained for a very important role. Town Halls already serve communities in times of flood, storms and other disasters. Let’s just upgrade the buildings function and purpose.

Putting aside costing, which shouldn’t be impossible, could a fire shelter work? It would probably have to be located in a relatively clear area; withstand enormous temperatures and protect those in the shelter from the heat (not the flame). What about air supply? Outside air would be superheated, would that effect the air in a shelter? How long does a raging inferno take to demolish a house and move on?

Maybe this could work. Those with the knowledge will know. I really do wonder if people can be left standing even if the house can’t.

Black Saturday

Word for today: REFUGE, shelter for protection from danger or distress.

More to come: same blog time, same blog channel.



  1. Hi,
    I think a fire bunker is a very good idea, we have a lot of areas in Australia, that are a fire risk, and unfortunately a lot of lives have been lost.

    Thank You very much for putting in the link. I went to the web site and had a good look around, but they don’t explain their fire bunkers very well, breathing, and heat were the 2 things I was actually looking for, and how the fire bunkers actually worked for these 2 major things when stuck in a fire.

    Regardless if they work well I’m all for them.


    • Hi Magsx2, thanks for visiting today and previously; I’ve often wondered about fire bunkers and thought they should be possible but I hadn’t seen any examples or products mentioned. I’m pretty sure I’d have one if I lived amongst the bush. According to the site I mentioned, in their ‘news’ page it says air for 4 adults for 2 hours. In either case, according to the owner, their product has received accreditation for appropriate standards as a fire bunker. Whatever those standards are, I guess the ones with the knowledge would set them. Their news page also speaks of a person who stuck but survived in his own in ground concrete bunker. Maybe bunkers that work are not publicised much because it might encourage people to stay rather than go. The owner, I’m sure, would answer your questions even if you weren’t in the market for one. I still have plenty of questions about them but in truth, I’m not in the market for one where I live. I’m glad a workable bunker is on the market because they can only get better and might just save a life or two. I’ll be heading back to your site soon for some more jokes. Regards, Bruce


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