Kimberley Aboriginal community creates fire safety signs
The first fire safety signs in Western Australia to include Aboriginal language have been erected in one of the State’s most fire prone areas.
The four roadside signs that display fire safety messages in both English and Aboriginal languages as well as artwork were developed by Bardi Jawi people, who live on the Dampier Peninsula in the Kimberley.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services Kimberley District Officer Lee Vallance said the signs had been placed across the region to raise awareness of how fire impacts communities.
"Every year major fires threaten lives, property and the environment so it is important Kimberley people and travellers to the region understand how to be safe around fire,” Mr Vallance said.
"While fires can start accidentally from a number of sources such as abandoned camp fires, cigarettes thrown from windows or by being deliberately lit, they can have devastating consequences."
Bardi Jawi Fire Operations Officer Chris Sampi said fire was the most devastating threat to the land and it was good to get the message out now through the new signs.
Students from the Ardyaloon (One Arm Point) School worked with the Bardi Jawi Rangers, who are facilitated by the Kimberley Land Council, to make the signs. Bardi Jawi Ranger Trevor Sampi produced the drawings.
"It was important for the students in school to come up with the message, if they come up with it - they will respect it more,” Mr Sampi said.
On one sign there is a Bardi language translation ‘moorrooloo noorrd, gorna booroo’, which means ‘small fire, good country’.
The sign features an image of the Madoorr or Gubinge tree, an important bush fruit tree that grows in Monsoon Vine Thicket and in a habitat regularly threatened by fire.
Mr Sampi said fire was very important for Bardi Jawi people, and was used for spear making, cooking, warmth and communication.
"Traditionally Bardi Jawi people used fire in the cooler months and ranger work allows us to continue this,” he said.
"Rangers play a big role in fire management by burning in the cooler months to reduce fires in the hotter months, which are devastating to the environment.”
By targeting community and culture, the rangers hope these signs will be effective in getting the fire safety message across to everyone.
Photographs are available on request.
Media Contact: DFES Media and Public Affairs on 9225 5955 KLC Community Relations on 91940106