Food for Thought

Glenda George – 4 Feb 2018

If the landowners are restricted from  clearing their land on a large scale and only being allowed to clear within the framework of the local Council/RFS protocols in order to minimally reduce the fire risk by approximately 1% of our land holding of 25 acres that is heavily vegetated and a fire has not burnt through since 1994, is this taking stupidity on steroids to a higher form?

Other Authorities including  the Native Vegetation Act or any other restriction ie that regulates sensitive situations of koala habitats placed on us from our local council, the RFS or any other authority,  how can the landowner be held responsible if they are prevented from carrying out any fuel reduction, or the fire was started out of their control, ie a lighting strike and surely if there is a requirement wouldn’t that authority be responsible, as any approval given by the Authority would contain conditions as to when and how any fuel reductions could be carried out?

The RFS cannot carry out hazzard reductions without additional approvals from various authorities.

If we are to be responsible for not allowing a wildfire to spread to our adjoining neighbouring properties, then this law clearly requires changing to allow us to bring in the bulldozers and clear a huge firebreak on all four boundaries in order to attempt to try and protect our eight neighbours that all join onto our 25 acres.  A massive amount of gum trees would be knocked over and then the koalas would loose their food source.  The cost would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It will take more than firebreaks to stop a wildfire racing out of control up the steep escarpment like it caused total blackening of all the 25 acres in 1994.  There is a massive amount of fuel load on the property now and a fire will be unstoppable as fire trucks cannot enter due to no roads throughout the property.

Sensible Hazard Reduction has got a Bad Name

Mick Holton – 21 Mar 2018

Glenda, Thanks for your comment (Food for Thought).

Hazard reduction burning has gotten a bad name because we (the fire services as some land owners) tend to squeeze burning activities into small periods of time.

Indigenous Australians burned as it suited them and when the conditions were just right. No PPE required because they were able to safely walk around the super low intensity fire that trickled through the bush leaving a layer of humus behind for all the critters.

A koala may has chewed some smoke but he lived to chew another day (the same day… because the trees were not even scorched).

Unfortunately, the way that most burns have been conducted is to assemble a heap of people and fire trucks to wrap up a hazard reduction burn in a week-end. Crews often assemble in the morning and the burn is underway in the hottest part of the day.

Hazard reduction burning that is allowed to get too hot is damaging to the environment and it damages the reputation of those who wish to burn in a more appropriate manner.

Hazard reduction burning in the Ku-ring-gai National Park north of Sydney in August. Photo: NSWRFS
Hazard reduction burning (way too much heat energy) in the Ku-ring-gai National Park north of Sydney in August 2015. Photo: NSWRFS

We need to remove the red tape and get back to the basics of cool burning to help protect our environment, our properties and our way of life.

Indigenous Fire Strategy Interventions of Past Times

22 Mar 2018

Hello Mick

Thank you for your interesting worded response regarding the Indigenous fire strategy interventions of past times.  I enjoyed reading the content as it presented a different perspective with great insight into a long proven modality of fire protection.

I totally agree with you in that the Indigenous population was absolutely gifted in their skillful  and intelligent manner in which they protected the landscape from the ravaging wildfires that had the potential to wipe out cultural history, injure or cause death, decimate their land, dwellings and destroy their food source.

They were extremely efficient in managing and protecting their environment by fully engaging in ongoing hazard reductions in order to minimise the impact of wildfire. They were totally prepared for the outcome of violent electrical storm lighting strikes.  There were no weather stations to promote up to the minute digital information.  They were proficient in reading the wind patterns and knew exactly when to rub their stones together.

A workable plan was put into action as they attended to the landscapes low intensity burning criteria under the right conditions in order to achieve the desired outcome of protecting their environment.

Having worked in the Northern Territory and now flying over it regularly, it is interesting to view from the ground and from the air that this practice is still being maintained today as when flying over the vast outback landscape I view hazard reductions taking place in isolated indigenous areas during the cooler winter months.

They demonstrated in the past their accurate fire protection practices together with their proven ability which was devoid of modern technology and they got it right and I ask the question as to the rationale of why we, as a supposedly advanced forward thinking nation, can get it so wrong?

The RFS need to learn a lesson from our Indigenous forebearers and give them the respect that they deserve due to their proven knowledge base, as these catastrophic fires of today will continue to cause loss of life, kill farming animals, kill the Australian protected wildlife, burn houses to the ground and promote mental health issues among the vulnerable people in the pathway of a menacing unstoppable wildfire that destroys their property and at times income stream ie a farmer who loses everything ie home, out buildings, fences and stock animals and has no insurance or business owners in country towns like Tathra who have suffered huge losses both personally and financially.

I have participated in many hazard reduction that get started on very hot days and yes, in the middle of the day after the stand around period of a few hours has expired and it is then ready to get fire on the ground.  They instruct, only a meter flame height, but due to huge amounts of unburnt built up of dry leaf litter over decades of no fires, together with dry bark on trees and horrendous heat, the one meter strategy quickly becomes a crowning fire.

Getting More People Involved

Mick Holton – 30 Mar 2018

Ecological burning does not have to be completed by firefighters.

Farmers have been conducting agricultural burning for a long time without strict regulation.

The right fire can be good for the environment and prevent destruction.

Private landowners, groups like Landcare and other similar organisations that care for our environment could get involved in hazard reduction and ecological burning. Local brigades could then provide a single truck with a small crew to assist. This would become less of a logistical burden to our volunteer firefighters.

You don’t need PPE for super low intensity burning (cool burns), just sensible clothing.

Have Your Say

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A Discussion on Ecological and Hazard Reduction Burning
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