Winter 2005

The Fire and Emergency Services
Authority (FESA) has captured on
DVD the stories of five brave
Tenterden women who lived through
this traumatic event. The women
describe their feelings, actions and
the choices they made during the
terrifying experience in the hope
that it will motivate others to
prepare and plan for a bushfire.
Michelle Davis, mother of three,
never believed that she would
experience a bush fire. However,
her husband John was very fire
conscious and ensured that their
home was prepared for the threat of a wild fire.
“If you choose to live in this environment
you must have plans for a fire. It is
essential that you have enough water
available and firefighting equipment,”
Michelle said.
Michelle and her children chose to stay
at home to protect their property, while John helped the
local brigade fight the fire on neighbouring properties.
Their home was prepared and they had a firefighting
appliance on the farm which Michelle believes made a
big difference, as well as the fact she was able to stay in
contact with John by mobile phone. Michelle, her
parents and her daughters managed to save the house,
but unfortunately lost many sheds, chickens, sheep,
fencing, machinery, crops and a recently established
olive grove.
St John Ambulance volunteer Anne Parsons, made the
decision to prepare her home for the bush fire and then
provide emergency first aid to the community. She
grabbed her pets and left, knowing they could always
rebuild if they had to, but she knew she had to help the
people who needed first aid.
Anne was surprised and delighted when she heard that
the volunteer fire crews had saved her home.
Mother of two Andrea Mengler decided she would stay
and protect their home, while her husband Greg went to
help fight the fire.
Andrea quickly discovered her property had lost power and
therefore she had no access to the water pump to protect
her own home. Greg came back to connect the generator
to the water pump and to also cut fire breaks around the
house. Andrea believes the reason her home was saved
was because of the fire breaks and the hard work of the
firefighters who arrived just moments before the fire.
Andrea said the fire has taught her she needed to be
better prepared.
“I’ve got myself a pair of fire proof
overalls now … so I intend to
keep them here ready in case we
have another situation where we
need to go to a fire,” Andrea said.
Anne Osborn had her sister-inlaw
and six children all under the
age of 11 years in the house at the time of the fire. Since
the blaze, she has become a strong advocate for
individual fire plans and checklists.
“Just write it down, what you are going to do, because
you don’t think of everything,” Anne said.
Anne said she found it difficult to leave her husband
behind to face the fire, but she knew the importance of
someone staying to put out the spot fires. So when
embers fell through the roof onto bedding her husband
was on hand to quickly put them out.
When Anne drove back home she was horrified to see the
devastation of the fire left behind as well as all the
blackened animals in the paddocks. Anne believes that
she could have stayed, but because of the children, she
believes her decision to evacuate was the correct one.