In this paper, Michael Eburn and his colleague Geoff Cary argue that the statement ‘Whoever owns the fuel owns the fire’ implies a duty on landowners to manage fuel on their land to reduce the likelihood of bushfires, however started, from spreading to neighbouring properties. However, the notion ‘Whoever owns the fuel owns the fire’ has not been analysed from a legal perspective. This paper reviews Australian law to identify who is legally responsible for fire that starts on privately owned land. We argue that the correct interpretation of existing Australian law is: ‘Whoever owns the ignition owns the fire’ – that is, liability to pay for losses caused by bushfire has always fallen on those that intentionally start a fire, not on the owner of the fuel that sustains the fire. That legal conclusion could have dramatic implications for fire management policies. It will be shown that liability for starting a prescribed burn is clear-cut whereas liability for allowing accumulated fuel loads to contribute to the spread of fire is almost unheard of. As a result, we argue that the law is pushing landowners in a direction away from the policy direction adopted by all Australian governments. After identifying the current legal position, we recommend changes to align the law with the national policy direction.
Tankers trailers, slip-ons and other privately owned fire appliances must be recognised by the NSW State Government as viable firefighting capability. Unfortunately, there are many reported instances in NSW, where farmers have been prevented from using their own equipment and have been isolated from their properties by unnecessary (according to local knowledge) Police road blocks.
This post includes an embedded CFA video and comments by Michael Eburn.
The NSW RFS is conducting a number of Code of Conduct and Ethics training workshops in 2018.
The VFFA congratulates the NSW RFS, Professional Standards Unit on this initiative. We encourage members to attend these workshops.
The workshops are interactive and provide an opportunity to discuss the Code and how it applies to brigade life. Learning occurs through instruction, large and small group activities and sharing of member experiences.
Australia’s cuddliest native animal is at the centre of fierce scientific dispute, with new research challenging conventional assumptions about koalas, their relationship with the bush and the wisdom of conservation campaigns designed to increase their numbers in the wild.
Vic Jurskis, a respected forester and ecologist and the author of a research paper to be published next week in Wildlife Research, a peer-reviewed, CSIRO journal, dubs it the great koala scam.
He says ignorance about koalas and poor management of our native forests have led to a situation where the decline of koala populations from unsustainable and unnaturally high levels is misinterpreted as a crisis.
There was a report of a vehicle roll over (NSW RFS Cat 9) near Narrabri on Monday 22nd Jan 2018.
The welfare of those involved is the highest of priorities. It does appear that everyone is okay without serious injury.
It is now very important that the NSW RFS acts upon any reports received to determine if this accident (reported as a tyre failure) or the resulting vehicle roll over are in any way connected to the faulty wheels that were reported in November 2017.
Governments and fire authorities needed to consider taking a more local approach, and introduce on the outskirts of towns and cities clever landscape designs that included irrigation and green fire breaks in the form of parklands, that could work in conjunction with burn-offs to help mitigate bushfire risks.
Across Australia, early Europeans commented again and again that the land looked like a park. With extensive grassy patches and pathways, open woodlands and abundant wildlife, it evoked a country estate in England. Bill Gammage has discovered this was because Aboriginal people managed the land in a far more systematic and scientific fashion than we have ever realised.
If anyone wants to save an electronic copy (pdf format) of any of our published magazines go to http://volunteerfirefighters.org.au/vffa-magazines or navigate using the main menu to “Magazines”.
If you did not get the glossy printed edition sent to your mailbox, then you may need to update your mailing details or sign up for a free membership.
Magazines can also be viewed online at: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/59795888/vffa-2017-v9-2-summer
1. The wheel in the photo was fitted to a NSW RFS Cat 9 response vehicle.
2. The NSW RFS has not issued a safety notice or safety alert about this issue.
3. There has not been any recalls of these wheels.
4. There does not seem to be any Safety Alerts issued in 2017 (no Safety Alerts about any topic).
5. We have been informed that the Hawkesbury District has replaced five wheels.
6. Apparently, these wheels were specified to reduce vehicle weight.
7. It has been reported that at least two different vehicles have had cracked wheels.
We are not suggesting that the NSW RFS has failed to properly respond to this issue but we would like to know if this issue has occurred more frequently than reported.
On Wednesday 6th December 2017, a day after International Volunteer Day, a Sydney based Volunteer Firefighter was convicted of dangerous driving in a Local Court case that was heard over three days. The Volunteer was charged by the NSW Police some months after the Police attended a Hazard Reduction Burn.
The Police attended following a phone call from a paid staff member of the NSW Rural Fire Service (the RFS) reporting an alleged incident. The volunteer was on route to the fire station to assist with a pre-planned hazard reduction burn. The matter was reported to the Police without the RFS taking any steps to investigate the allegations internally, or to even hear the Volunteer’s account of the event.
Legal costs to protect the good name of this Volunteer are now in the tens’ of thousands of dollars and the Volunteer Firefighter was sentenced and ordered to pay a $750 fine and had his license suspended for a 12-month period The legal proceedings have been underway for approximately 14 months, they have taken an incredible toll on the volunteer, his family and brigade.
The Volunteer has not received any support or communication from the NSW RFS.