Farmers forced to take matters into their own hands

The VFFA has been observing a trend in recent years where farmers are increasing their own firefighting capability. In some cases, farmers are pooling resources in a manner that is somewhat like the beginnings of early bush fire services in NSW.

This observation was reported by Mitchell Van Homrigh, The Daily Telegraph on 9th October, 2019.

In the article, Mitchell reported:

Farmers in northern NSW have been forced to take matters into their own hands ahead of what is expected to be one of the worst bushfire seasons in years.

With more than 30 homes already levelled by massive fires during the worst drought in living memory, a number of graziers like Bronwyn Petrie are now jerry rigging utes with water tanks and retired Rural Fire Service gear to protect their properties.

Bronwyn Petrie bought an old Rural Fire Service slide-on water tank and hose and said it has been invaluable. Pictures: Supplied by Grant Johnston in Tenterfield

“We have an old RFS slip on tank which cost us about $800. It is worth its weight in gold,” the Tenterfield local said.

“A lot of people have plastic tanks on the back of their utes but we prefer the metal as you don’t need to worry about embers burning through the plastic.”

Other preparations by locals include dry firefighting techniques like controlled burns and digging fire breaks.

Craig Little, who owns a property in Landers Lane, in Tenterfield’s south, has already had two vicious fires sweep through his property — burning thousands of dollars worth of produce.

“We’ve been burnt out twice this year. The one in February was really bad and we just started to recover before the one that rolled through in the start of September,” he said.

“We’re trying to protect the country as good as we can before summer really starts. My father-in-law got on the tractor and cut out some fire breaks, a lot of locals do that.”

Several locals are frustrated by the operations of the RFS, saying response times have been too slow since the organisation centralised their regional base in Glen Innes.

An RFS spokesman said the shift had not detracted from the speed or quality of firefighters dispatched to northern NSW fires.

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