It is getting harder and harder to reach people about preparing for the extreme risk of summer fire.
It is something the state’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp noted last week when he was in Bendigo.
The problem, he said, was time.
“If we want to talk about the 2009 fires and Black Saturday, certainly in the year afterwards everyone was focused,” he said.
“But I think it’s just human nature. The longer it’s been since we’ve had something significant like that, the more some people will become complacent.”
Mr Crisp’s view was a nuanced and philosophical one from a leader in a sector that turns its attention, year after year, to the difficult task of rousing people to action before fire restrictions take effect.
Yet emergency management personnel should have the right to get frustrated, especially following the spate of out-of-control fires earlier this month.
In one weekend the CFA responded to 14 burn-offs that flared out of control. The problem in most of those fires was lack of attention.
Hopefully, those momentary lapses in concentration were enough to jolt 14 people into thinking about fire safety in a new way, perhaps making them think too about the other boxes they need to tick as summer looms.
They are the basics, sure, but they are the simple things that save lives like cleaning gutters and making sure everyone in the family knows what to do if they see smoke on the horizon.
Many of us could do with our very own jolt.
Central Victoria will see fires this summer, even if many of us are not aware they are happening, or how often the CFA will be called out to these incidents.
This region has fantastic CFA crews who stop countless fires from roaring up to dangerous sizes.
But don’t let their brilliance lull you into a false sense of security. Anyone who was in Bendigo 10 years ago knows the dread that comes with bushfire.
We need to remember that. Now.
Tom O’Callaghan, journalist