The Concept Behind Australia’s Stay and Defend or Leave Early Policy

Article Written by:
Glenn Nader, University of California Cooperative Extension, Yuba City, CA

Lots of smoke 300w72dpi.jpg

The concept for this and other similarly named programs (e.g., “Stay or Go,” “Leave Early or Stay and Defend”) is that if you have carefully planned for fire, implemented the plan before the fire starts, and are well prepared, then the risks of staying are greatly decreased. Preparation includes:

  • Creating and maintaining a defensible space by reducing fuel around your home,
  • Incorporating “fire-safe” designs and materials into your home (e.g., noncombustible roof, screened vents, etc.),
  • Understanding what will be required of you while staying, and
  • Knowing how to put out small fires that will exist on your property once the main body of the wildfire has passed.

Since most homes are lost due to embers that started spot fires, there can be an advantage to having someone present to extinguish small fires.

This policy is under review after 173 people died in the 2008 Australian Black Saturday fires.