Dated 12.01.11 (during the floods in QLD and fires in Western Australia)
While a lot of the country is suffering from rain and the fire danger in most areas is probably set at low, I thought I would post about what we can do to help with the fire season that doesn't involve actually pointing a hose at the flames. (Unless of course that is what you want to do!) That gives you a few months to approach the various groups to find out what you can do and perhaps undertake any training that might be needed. It is a way of meeting people, putting a bit back and having a sense of purpose. This is important to settling in well in a new country.
The little town in which I live (in Victoria) survives to a large extent on volunteer help. There are more than a few organisations which work hard to keep things going all year, not just when the world catches alight.
I am also aware that things may vary from state to state and that there are CFA members on B.E. from the different states. Feel free to add/alter/correct anything that I may say here.
About three years ago there were a couple of large fires around here. They weren't too close to town but the town was used as the base camp for the fire fighters and other back-up services. We are in the west of Victoria, only 70 klms from the S.A. Border. We had firefighters (volunteers don't forget) who had travelled from Gippsland to get here. (As much as 500 kilometers). My wife has just informed me on reading this that they also came from Sydney! Having just finished dealing with their own fires.
Someone needs to make the tea! Food needs to be prepared. There are a thousand and one jobs that need to be done to support a large number of firefighters if they descend on your locality.
In town here, Lions Club, Rotary, the CWA, Scouts, the Footy Club (it's their oval used as the camp site) the Netball Club, Little Athletics, the P & A society and too many to list here, all jump in and help out in times of need. Then of course, when things are quiet, they go back to their normal activities so there's always something to do.
The CFA also has a junior section.
There is also a Red Cross Emergency Team of which my wife is a member. http://www.redcross.org.au/howyoucanhelp_becomeavolunteer_default.htm
Not all places are like this; cities will be different again but there is SOMETHING you can do to help no matter where you live.
Check websites via google for the CFA, SES etc in your area. Most organisations need support staff as well as front line troops.
Anyone, please feel free to add other bits of useful information.