Carmelita Bernadus from the Clarkson Voluntary FireWise Community shares her story

We are very vulnerable to fires because around Clarkson we have the pine plantations.

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The message that we are trying to get to the community of Clarkson is if your house burned down now, how will you be able to rebuild it? How will you be able to rebuild your lives?

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When I started to learn what FireWise is about I told myself I want to make a difference in Clarkson to safeguard Clarkson from wildfires. That’s what I’m about.

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I am the chairperson of the Clarkson FireWise. We do mostly awareness-raising in the community. I’m the kind of person who, if I see something and I’m able to do it, will go out and I will do it.


We do door-to-door awareness raising, we teach people about fires, and we also clean under power-lines and check the hydrants.

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The clearing is actually hard work but it is nothing compared to lives being lost and houses burning down.


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The nice thing about living in such a small community is everyone knows everyone. As a team, we try and make it joyful and enjoyable for every single person. It is people’s lives that we are dealing with, so that is why I love what I do now.


I’m raising two kids in Clarkson and they are still young. So, if a fire comes from outside the community and it is clean around your house, then there is a much smaller possibility of your house catching fire.

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I told myself I will better this community… Not for my kids alone, but for other kids as well.

Fire is going to be part of our lives.

We won’t be able to stop it…

but we can keep our families and our houses safe.


In a recent workshop the following skills learned through their journey with FireWise came to light, and are proving to be useful to the development of their own independent Small, Medium and Micro-Sized Enterprises:

Business management

Conflict management

Disaster management

Health & safety

Cutting tools

Vineyard pruning

Follow-up clearing & maintenance work after firebreak has been burned

Function management