One aspect of being a Rural Fire fighter that most of us accept but never really get to feel comfortable about is the prospect of running into snakes when we’re scrambling around the bush trying to bring a fire under control. Often this happens at night and the prospect of encountering a snake that’s out hunting for its next feed can be a bit off-putting for the bravest of us. Recently the Tamborine Mountain Brigade organised a Snake Awareness session for its members and others from SES, Ambulance, Police and Auxiliary Fire Service.
For those who were able to make it, the morning was instructive and dispelled a lot of the myths that are passed on with a frequency that can convert them into fact in some people’s minds. Some things that are a fact and that people should be aware of is that most victims who suffer snake bites do so because they have tried to either remove, kill or somehow interact with the reptile. The safest course is to avoid them and treat the creature with respect. lf you think that the snake is coming for you the answer will usually be to get out of the way because you are most probably between the creature and what it believes to be a safe place. Most snakes by their very nature are timid creatures and will only strike if they perceive that they are being threatened – they don’t see you as their next lunch!
When Tony Harrison from Gold Coast Snake Shows began to place different snakes on a table I think that most of us took a step back. He presented a pair of Brown Snakes which, though they were the same species looked completely different to each other. It was an important lesson that though we may think that we know what a particular type of snake looks like we could be completely wrong in our layman’s identification. The same is true of other species which may look different in appearance depending on factors such as time of year or their age. I think that all those who attended the workshop came away from it a little bit wiser than when they went in and also a little less afraid of creatures that are after all an important part of our mountain environment.
In the next few articles we will be focussing on getting ready for the next fire season which will be with us before we know it. These days the weather seems less predictable and we can never be certain of a big wet to help control the potential for fire. It sometimes seems that people only think about fire when they can smell the smoke – the truth is that if they don’t think about it until then it is too late. Your Rural Fire Brigade is there to deal with the fires as and when they happen but it is up to everyone who lives on Tamborine to do their part as members of the community to prepare their properties for the possible eventuality of a wildfire.