The Hidden Cost of Bushfires – by Roger Underwood

The Hidden Cost of Bushfires – by Roger Underwood

As I pursue my passion for bushfire safety I am frequently confronted by people who live in bushfire-prone residential situations but who make no preparations for fire. When I ask why, they say that they are not worried. “If a fire comes, I will simply evacuate” they say, “and if the house burns, I have insurance and will just rebuild”. This philosophy is usually based on the fear that preparing for bushfires (especially fuel reduction in bushland) means “destroying the environment”.
Several things have not been thought-through…

Bush Fire Control in Australia (1961)

Bush Fire Control in Australia (1961)

The recent bushfires in NSW are not in “mid winter”, where they occurred as suggested by many.
The bushfire season in mid-NSW always starts earlier than in southern Australia, with bushfires around Sydney and in the Blue Mountains historically occurring at this time of the year.
People forget how far north Sydney is (latitude), being closer to a sub-tropical than a temperate climate.
Every year when there are bushfires around Sydney in August or Sept, the cry goes out “Climate Change! Bushfires in mid-winter!”, while history and climatic zones are ignored.
On page 20 of the textbook, Bush Fire Control in Australia (1961), there is an excellent map of Australia showing the bushfire seasons. South-eastern Qld and central coastal NSW are clearly shown as having an occasional August / September fire season start.
It is worth noting that the weather varies from year to year, the diagram shows the average situation.
When you take notice of the date that this textbook was published (well over 50 years ago), these fires are nothing new. The intensity of the fires is increasing because of fuel loads and the drought in NSW will impact upon bushfire conditions.

Emergency Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2018

The Emergency Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 is being debated by the Legislative Assembly. It is an Act to make miscellaneous amendments to various Acts that relate to emergency services and associated matters.
Some members have expressed concerns about this Bill.
Rather than publish those concerns at this time, we are asking that our readers consult the Bill and submit comments as posts or emails to our Executive Council.

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.