Roads to Recovery – What about Rural NSW?

Roads to Recovery – What about Rural NSW?

Questions Raised by our Readers
It has been suggested that the further away from the coast you live, this less important you are to the NSW State Government.

This suggestion is supported with the following questions:
1. Why did it take so long to begin the process of providing drought relief to the farmers of NSW?
2. Why are we still waiting for an investigation into the Sir Ivan (Dunedoo / Cassilis area) fire that occurred in November 2017?
3. Why have we not seen any changes to land management practices and fire trail development by the NSW State Government since the Upper House inquiry into the Wambelong fire?

On a more positive note, the NSW State Government should be congratulated for the quicker responses to the Tathra Fire inquiry and their support of the recovery process BUT… there actions appear to be driven by a range of factors including:

1. media interest
2. perceptions of what constitutes an asset. Is it bricks and mortar or livestock, fences and fodder?
3. an election just around the corner, or
4. all of the above.

The VFFA is constantly pushing the NSW Government, in particular the NSW RURAL Fire Service to restore it’s focus upon rural and regional NSW.
This does not mean that other areas need to suffer, but the service must undergo major reform to ensure that all people in NSW are afforded the same level of treatment.

Neil Burrows remembers Cyclone Alby

Neil Burrows remembers Cyclone Alby

Forty years ago in April 1978, Cyclone Alby brought one of Western Australia’s worst storm and bushfire crises to the South-west and Great Southern regions. Both were severely hit. Five lives were lost in the storm and dozens injured. Hundreds of houses were burned down or damaged, thousands of hectares of farms were burnt, stock killed and orchards and plantations smashed. The entire region was paralysed as roads were blocked by fallen trees and power lines. Power and telephones were out for up to a week.

At the time, few people imagined that a Category 5 Tropical Cyclone would ever hit the South-west and the community was caught entirely by surprise.

This book by forester and Bushfire Front Chairman Roger Underwood is the first to undertake a thorough analysis of the event. What happened and why, what were the impacts and costs? What are the lessons for the future?

This book is available at a cost of $40 posted. email: yorkgum@westnet.com.au

VFFA AGM and Ordinary Meeting – Sat 4th August 2018

VFFA AGM and Ordinary Meeting – Sat 4th August 2018

A VFFA Annual General Meeting is being held at the Parkview Hotel, 281 Summer St, Orange NSW on Saturday August 4th, 2018 from 10.00am to 11:00am.
It will be followed by an ordinary meeting from 11.00am to 5.00pm at the same venue with a lunch break from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
The VFFA would love to see our members, supporters and special guests attend this important event.

VFFA President talks to Graeme Gilbert (2SM Super Radio Network) about RFS Reform

The media has become interested in the need for major reform after the release of the NSW Upper House report, entitled Emergency Services Agencies NSW.
The audio file (below) was captured on Wednesday 25th July, by a VFFA supporter as he listened to an interview with the VFFA President, Mick Holton by Graeme Gilbert of the 2SM Super Radio Network.
Mr Gilbert gave our association approximately twenty eight minutes of air time.
The 2SM Super Radio Network broadcasts across Sydney, many rural and regional areas of NSW.
Comments and feedback are most welcome.
The audio file is provided is this post.

VFFA response to the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Bullying and Harassment in the NSW Emergency Services

VFFA response to the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Bullying and Harassment in the NSW Emergency Services

The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) President Mick Holton says he is encouraged by the release of the NSW Upper House report, entitled Emergency Services Agencies NSW.

The report focused heavily upon bullying and harassment in the NSW Emergency Services.

“The report confirms what many NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers have known for a long time – that bullying, harassment and abuse of power is occurring in the RFS” said Mr. Holton.

“The VFFA recognises the courage of RFS volunteers and salaried staff in coming forward and working with the Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Legal Affairs, during this Upper House inquiry.”

“Volunteering with the RFS should be non-threatening, respectful, safe and free from all forms of bullying and harassment.”

“All volunteers have the right not to bullied or discriminated against in the RFS” said Mr. Holton.

“We are pleased to continue to lead and to participate in efforts to support volunteers who have suffered bullying and harassment in the RFS and will continue to challenge and call out this unacceptable behaviour,” said Mr. Holton.

The VFFA welcomes the release of the report and calls on NSW Government and the RFS to adopt all the recommendations of the Upper House Inquiry into Emergency Service Agencies.

Major Reform is Required.

Tathra Bushfire – Indigenous Burning Story

Tathra Bushfire – Indigenous Burning Story

Why don’t we listen to Indigenous land management experts?
In the Bega Valley Fires Independent Review, there was no mention of the case study where the Tathra fires did not burn previously treated, cultural burn areas.
There has been no follow up at all (with the Aboriginal Land Council or the Indigenous People) on how we can extend that outcome.
Indigenous People are burning country on the South Coast right now in a bid to prevent wild fires to the land just like Tathra example and healing it with native vegetation instead of dead leaves and rubbish.
These young Indigenous people are only in their early twenties and already ten times more connected to the country than most of the so called experts on fire mitigation.
They are doing all this with no wage, no vehicles, and no fire fighting equipment at all.
There are young Indigenous people in Tathra burning the effected areas right now to prevent invasive native regrowth which makes the country full of fuel to make the next fires in ten years far worse.
This is the first project of its kind in modern history in recovery of torched country.
Victor Steffensen has been burning all over Australia this year, have said “the window to burn is huge if you know how to read the country. You mob gotta stop leaving us and the land out of the conversation”.
Meanwhile…
The RFS Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons challenges aspects of the Independent Review into the Bega Valley Bushfires.

VFFA response to the Bega Valley Fires Independent Review

VFFA response to the Bega Valley Fires Independent Review

The Bega Valley Fires Independent Review was commissioned by the NSW State Government in response to public pressure and media interest in the Reedy Swamp Fire that occurred on 18 March 2018, and subsequently impacted on the township of Tathra.

The media reported a long-standing turf war between the two predominant fire services in NSW and the Minister for Police and Emergency Services responded with an announcement that Mr Keelty will be conducting a full review for the government so that we don’t get these questions in the future.

The VFFA welcomes any opportunity to openly and transparently review and debate topics that impact upon public safety and the provision of emergency services to the people of NSW.

This post contains the VFFA response to this review other related documentation.

The Sky’s the Limit – It’s a Different Story if you need a Shed

The Sky’s the Limit – It’s a Different Story if you need a Shed

Are we Forgetting Something?
There is no disputing that aviation plays a vital role in our firefighting capability, but is the state government spending too much time and taxpayers money developing RFS capability whilst they are neglecting the simple principles of mitigation, early detection and suppression using their vast network of volunteer firefighters on the ground.
When it comes to fire suppression, the VFFA is not convinced that large fixed wing aircraft are the answer. We do support using smaller fixed wing aircraft and helicopters for transportation of remote area fire teams (RAFT) and to support ground crews with aerial suppression activities.
With reference to fixed wing aircraft, it should be noted that a fire retardant drop using a DC10 (Very Large Air Tanker – VLAT) costs us $45,000 per drop. Operation of helicopters for firefighting activities is significantly cheaper.
Whilst we acknowledge that this helicopter aquisition has the potential to enhance the states remote area response reach and capability, but we must not neglect the resources that we already have.
It has also been suggested that the money could have been invested into fire towers and early detection systems that have the potential to alert firefighters of a fire before it becomes too large.