Potential life-saver

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Cookernup resident and Up and Go Evac Marker inventor Nik Wynne gets help from Cookernup volunteer firefighter Jac Taylor to install the marker at the front of the town's community centre.
Camera IconCookernup resident and Up and Go Evac Marker inventor Nik Wynne gets help from Cookernup volunteer firefighter Jac Taylor to install the marker at the front of the town's community centre. Credit: Jacinta Cantatore – Harvey Reporter

A Cookernup resident has invented a device which could prove critical during life-threatening bushfires.

Up and Go Evac Marker creator Nik Wynne said he hoped the device would save lives during catastrophic fires like the 2016 Waroona-Yarloop bushfires.

The Up and Go Evac Marker is a simple metal device designed to be fixed onto the rural marker at the front of each property in town.

Underneath a sliding cover are two panels, one red one green.

The creator of the Up and Go Evac Marker hopes it will save even one life.
Camera IconThe creator of the Up and Go Evac Marker hopes it will save even one life. Credit: Harvey Reporter

The idea is to set the device to red in the down position to indicate people are inside the house.

When residents evacuate during a bushfire, as they drive out the gate they slide the panel up to reveal the green section.

This lets firefighters know there are no people in the home, and they can move on to check other homes.

After being evacuated from his home in Cookernup during the fires, Mr Wynne said precious moments of the firies’ time were lost as brigade after brigade checked his empty home, time that could have been used to help others.

During the 2016 Waroona-Yarloop bushfires, local fire and rescue services were supported by brigades from Collie, Margaret River, Busselton, and Department of Fire and Emergency Services firies.

But as each new brigade drove through, houses were re-checked because communication infrastructure had been damaged by the fire so there was no way for brigades to communicate which homes had been checked.

“They kept coming back to check our house,” Mr Wynne said.

“They checked my house at least five times.”

Living on a rural property backing onto 80km of bushland, Mr Wynne was surprised to learn his house had survived the blaze.

Ever since returning home he thought of ways to thank the firefighters and believes the markers had the potential to go Australia-wide to be used in all natural disasters.

“The fact I still have everything I own is down to these guys,” Mr Wynne said.

“The idea is to save even one person,” Mr Wynne said.

Cookernup volunteer firefighter Jac Taylor said the device could help brigades work on a critical priority basis.

“Even if the marker is burned beyond repair we can tell from the position of the marker if the occupants left their property, or if we need to go check the house straight away,” she said.

“Once we check a house we can mark it so the brigades coming in after us don’t check it again.”

On the back of the device is a label to write the exact GPS coordinates of each residence on a property so firies can locate people quickly when flames and smoke inhibit visibility.

The markers are available from the Cookernup General Store.

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