Several serious bush and grass fires in South Australia’s South East during the 2019-20 summer emphasised the threat uncontrollable fires can pose for the region’s small communities.
For the staff and Governing Council of Padthaway Primary School, it showed a clear need to provide better protection for the school and its assets – including buildings, books and irreplaceable student work.
“The fire danger was brought much closer to home with the Keilira fires last summer,” Padthaway Primary School principal Corinne Mowat said.
“Many properties were affected with some homes and substantial amounts of farmland and animals being lost.
“The children in our community were aware of the ongoing emergency. Once they started the 2020 school year, we supported them with teaching about fire safety, protection and planning – and many of our Upper Primary students chose to join the Padthaway Country Fire Service (CFS) Cadets as a result.
“It was obvious that having access to fire protection for the school would provide us with better security and help reinforce that the school is a safe place.”
In June 2020, a OneFortyOne Community Capacity Building Grant of $6,000, administered by the Stand Like Stone Foundation, enabled the school to purchase equipment for fire protection.
The major component was a 31,000-litre rainwater tank which has been connected to the school’s guttering and plumbed to outlet taps. The school also purchased a portable firefighting kit with an independently powered pump, plus a hose and reel. Wheels have been fitted to the unit to provide mobility.
Corinne said members of the community and school parents who volunteer with the local CFS will be training school staff in its use. The mobile kit will also be available for members of the local community to use on fires in the area.
“Having water storage gives us a greater capacity to protect the school if there is ever a threat of a grass fire,” she said
“We can also use it to keep the school gardens and oval green, which helps reduce our fire risk in the first place and looks nicer, to keep everyone feeling more positive over the dry summer months.”
The school and its community feel fortunate that the Stand Like Stone Foundation chose to support such an important project and, since the tank and equipment was installed in October 2020, the weather has been more than kind.
“So far we have been happy to see the tank filling up from all this year’s lovely rain,” Corinne said.
“We are grateful to have received the grant from OneFortyOne and Stand Like Stone, which provides our school with a greater sense of security and protection now and in future years.”