It’s a very big undertaking for BlazeAid to establish a base camp in a community after a natural disaster. In order for us to set up a base camp in your area, there needs to be a significant distance of fencing to be rebuilt, and enough affected individuals and families who are willing to work with the volunteers (usually 10 or more properties, or fewer properties with larger distances).
Generally, there needs to be enough clearing and fencing work to sustain volunteers for at least two months for the establishment of a basecamp to be viable. Many of our basecamps will run for 4 – 8 months, depending on the extent of the damage. Once we close a basecamp, we’re not able to provide further assistance to local property owners.
BlazeAid does not approach a Council/Shire to establish a base camp. It’s up to the local council and/or community to determine the need in your area after a natural disaster. If you feel that you’d like BlazeAid to establish a base camp, it’s incumbent on you to contact your local Council/Shire. Once we’ve had a request for assistance, we will contact the interested farmers to get an indication of the level of help they need in the area.
Over the past 8 years, we’ve found that it’s vital to establish a BlazeAid base camp as soon as possible after the disaster event. This is not only for property owners with livestock issues, but for everyone affected. Knowing that help is at hand has an extremely positive impact on people who often don’t know where to start rebuilding. In addition, the response from volunteers is much higher in the initial days and weeks of the disaster.
How BlazeAid Operates
Our volunteers work from a base camp. We need to be able to provide our volunteers with somewhere to park caravans, motorhomes, set up tents, etc, for anything from 6 weeks to 8 months. We also need cooking facilities, a dining/meeting area, toilets and hot showers (these can be portable units).
Volunteers are provided with all meals. We ask local community/sporting/service/church/social groups etc. to become involved where possible to help with catering of the evening meal (we can reimburse the cost of the catering). This usually works best on a fortnightly roster basis.
Where possible, we ask the property owner to provide morning tea and lunch. However, if this is an issue, we send snacks and lunches with the volunteers.
Each morning, we have a compulsory Morning Muster, where volunteers meet for any updates and for a Safety Talk. BlazeAid volunteers are covered by Volunteer Insurance, and BlazeAid has Public Liability Insurance. We provide volunteers with PPE, including safety glasses, gloves, fluoro vests, ear plugs, and helmets, ear muffs & safety chaps when chain-sawing.
BlazeAid volunteers go out in teams to work with property owners. Volunteers are not permitted to work alone.
Our volunteer teams go out seven days a week. Depending on travelling time, they usually arrive at the property at 8.00 am – 8.30 am, and generally finish between 2.00 pm – 4.30 pm.
On days of high temperatures, our teams usually start earlier and finish earlier, to avoid the worst of the day’s heat.
Generally, we’re not able to provide fencing materials, however, we provide the tools and equipment for our volunteers to do the fencing.
We ask the local Council and community to contribute to some things:
1. We request that you help find a suitable location for the base camp which will be available on a long-term basis. In the past we’ve used community centres, football/cricket clubs, camps, showgrounds, etc. We prefer that these are provided at no cost or minimal cost. BlazeAid can pay the “spike” in the cost of power, water, etc.
We require somewhere for the volunteers to stay long-term in their caravans and motorhomes, preferably with some power available (this can be generators running for set hours of the day). Ideally, we also like to have a separate area nearby where we can set up basic accommodation for volunteers who don’t have their own caravan, tent, etc.
We also need water, toilets, and hot showers for the volunteers. (these can be portable units.)
We need to have an area that can be used as dining area, daily meeting area and socialising area for the volunteers, and for an office to be set up.
We also require a secure area for our tools and equipment (a locked room, shipping container or similar.)
2. Wherever possible, we have local community groups help with the catering of a two course (mains and dessert) evening meal. Usually, this is on a roster basis. In smaller communities, we can combine self-catering with the community group catering. We need a kitchen with an oven, hotplates, sink, fridges, freezers, etc. It’s not uncommon to feed anywhere from 20 – 70 volunteers per night.
Community groups will need to be able to commit for 2 – 6 months or more, depending on the duration of the base camp.
3. We ask the local council and/or local community groups to provide $5,000 per base camp. This is used to fund part of the cost of the evening meals, and any basecamp costs (eg gas, power, etc.) BlazeAid usually pays for the spike in electricity, costs, etc, for the time we’re using the facilities.
Where the disaster has affected properties across more than one Council/Shire, we ask for one payment of $5,000 for the base camp (ie not $5,000 from each Council/Shire).
In areas where a natural disaster has been declared, the Council usually receives extra funding which can help cover this payment. If the payment of this amount is an issue, please discuss it with us. All other costs after this initial amount will be covered by BlazeAid, irrespective of the duration of the base camp.
4. We ask that local media help raise awareness of the work in your area, including encouraging local families to register with us for assistance, and encouraging people to volunteer with us.
As of 2023, BlazeAid has already helped over 12,700 properties. Many families would not have stayed on their properties after the disaster without our assistance. This has a flow-on effect for local communities, businesses, schools, sporting groups, etc.
The value of BlazeAid’s work in local communities to date is in the millions of dollars. In addition, we contribute by shopping locally, and many of our long-term volunteers spend hundreds of dollars each while at a base camp. As well as helping rebuild fencing and other structures, we’re also helping rebuild lives and communities.
We can also provide the contact names and numbers of other Mayors and CEOs in areas where BlazeAid has run base camps and helped assist local communities to rebuild.