VFFA Media Release – 3rd September 2013

The Volunteer Firefighters Association (VFFA), the body representing the Voice of Volunteer Rural Firefighters in NSW refutes the claim by green alarmists that climate change is the cause of the recent bushfires in New South Wales.

It’s ridiculous to blame climate change when we know there has been far worse bushfires stretching back to the earliest days of European settlement in Australia including the Black Saturday Victoria 2009, NSW Bushfires 1994, Ash Wednesday Victoria 1983, Blue Mountains NSW 1968, Black Tuesday Hobart 1967 and Black Friday Victoria 1939, said Peter Cannon, President of the VFFA.

The VFFA is angered by comments from the green lobby groups that tackling climate change was more important than prescribed burning of forest fuels to reduce bushfire risk. The real blame rests with the greens and their ideology as they continue to oppose and undermine our efforts to conduct hazard reduction in the cooler months and to prevent private landowners from clearing their lands to reduce bushfire risk.

Hazard reduction is the only proven management tool rural firefighters have to reduce the intensity and spread of bushfires and this has been recognised in numerous bushfire enquires since the Stretton enquiry into the 1939 Victorian Bushfires.

The amount of ‘green tape’ we have to go through to get a burn approved is beyond frustrating; says Peter Cannon. The VFFA is calling on the NSW State Government to reduce the amount of green tape involved in planning and conducting hazard reductions, so that our Volunteer Firefighters can get on with the job of conducting fire prevention works in the cooler months to prevent the inevitable summer bushfire disasters that are now becoming a more regular feature.

The NSW State Government must also provide sufficient funding for bushfire hazard reduction works on a planned and sustained basis, including the creation of asset protection zones and upgrades of all fire trails in high bushfire risk areas.

Remember that it’s far more cost effective, say around 66 to 100 times more cost efficient, to prevent wild fires through hazard reduction than it is to have reactionary fire response, which is what we have at the moment. With the great number of lost homes and decreasing property values through these wild fires, what then will the total fiscal amount be…….when it could have all been prevented by effective Hazard reduction!

To increase the area treated by prescribed burning on bushfire prone lands from the current level of less than 1% per annum to a minimum of 5% per annum, as recommended by the Victorian Royal Commission and many leading bushfire experts.

Hazard Reduction by prescribed burning has been identified as a key management tool to reduce the intensity and spread of bushfires in national bushfire enquiries since the 1939 Stretton Royal Commission. In this regard the VFFA supports:

  1. Strategic and targeted hazard reduction by prescribed burning to reduce forest fuel levels and bushfire threat to human life (including fire fighter safety), property and the environment in areas identified as high bushfire risk.
  2. Bushfire risk management planning approach based upon the ‘Canobolas’ Model in NSW.
  3. Integrated hazard reduction by prescribed burning and complementary methods such as slashing, grazing and cultivation.
  4. The provision of adequate recurrent state and commonwealth funding to rural fire agencies, land management agencies and local government for the creation and maintenance of asset protection zones and fire trails in high bushfire risk areas on a planned and sustained basis.

Ongoing relevant research on fire behaviour, prevention and management and the effects of fire on biodiversity through the bushfire Cooperative Research.

Mr. Peter Cannon

Green Tape Prevents Volunteer Rural Firefighters from Reducing Bushfire Risk
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37 thoughts on “Green Tape Prevents Volunteer Rural Firefighters from Reducing Bushfire Risk

  • November 16, 2019 at 6:42 am

    Thanks for your comment, we have added this information.
    One comment about the failure of hazard reduction to reduce fuels is that we often muck it up. We try to do it too quickly, we get it too hot and we don’t do it frequently enough.
    We have to do something because these wildfires are destroying everything.
    Mick Holton

  • December 22, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    I agree whole heartedly that hazard reduction burns should not be delayed and blocked by Green tape. You are the experts in this field and we all should defer to you in this area.

    However, the role that global warming plays in both the heating and the drying out of bush land should be determined by the experts not by VFFA. Your listing of past fires that you claim are worse than the current fires to support your argument, does not comport with the statistics that show we have already lost 3 million hectares of bushland in NSW and the fire season is far from over. When was the last time we lost 800+ homes.

    The planet is heating up and Australia needs to plays its part in the global community to reduce emissions. Instead of making excuses that we generate only 1.3% of global emissions.

  • December 23, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    Not understanding how the Greens are doing this when federal and state governments are all LNP or Labor

  • January 2, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    I am surprised you can make the assessment “…there have been far worse bush fires before…” when this one hasn’t finished yet. The ones you mentioned, weren’t they confined to a state? e.g. Hobart 1967. This fire as I am sure you would agree that it is across several states and still burning. So I would be interested in how you made that assessment?

  • January 2, 2020 at 11:37 pm

    That’s 1.3% off the .3 percent which account for human carbon emissions

    Scientists have proven that in 1952 it was hotter than it was today
    The melting glaciers are due to active volcanos near the cost of green land
    Yet the majority of Greenland recorded their highest snowfall in 15 years.

    Climate change and playing our part should not be in panic
    Yet should continue to be focused on reducing plastic
    Better waste management projects and promoting clean energy in a sensible way.
    The greens do have extreme measures to combat what they say is an emergency
    But I feel it’s more political than scientific

  • January 3, 2020 at 5:42 am

    Also struggling to understand how Greens are implementing policies when not in power.

    Agree with previous comment, regarding your data not backing up your claims. Should also take note that your list shows an increase in frequency of catastrophic fires.

  • January 3, 2020 at 8:58 am

    I think that these idiots that think trees are far more important than human and animal life should be put in the middle of surrounding fires and see how they cope. Ive been there and i own 8 blocks of scrub. I WILL be clearing it to protect my family. You greenies can shove you idiotic ideas up your bleep

  • January 3, 2020 at 10:43 am

    2019-2020 is already the most destructive bushfire season since the 2008–09 Australian bushfires and the most widespread in recorded history, having already burned nearly 6 million hectares of land (there’s more currently burning, but lets talk about what’s already gone), destroyed over 2,500 buildings (including over 1,300 homes) and killed at least 17 people.

    And we’re not even halfway through the season.

    For comparison – these are the other “most extensive” fires we’ve seen:

    1851 – “Black Thursday” (5 million hectares)
    1939 – “Black Friday” (2 million hectares)
    2003 – “Victorian Alpine bushfires” (1.3 million hectares)
    2007 – “Great Divide bushfires” (1.2 -1.3 million hectares)
    1944 – 1 million hectares
    1983 – “Ash Wednesday” (510,000 hectares)
    2009 – “Black Saturday” (450,000 hectares)
    1965 – Gippsland (300,000 hectares)
    1898 – “Red Tuesday” (260,000 hectares)

    By what measure are you claiming “worse” fires have happened?

    Human life?

    You should already know that our ability to both fight and escape from fire is infinitely better than 20 years ago. That less lives have been lost is no reflection of the intensity, severity or scale of this Season.

  • January 3, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Friendly reminder and question: This article is dated September 3, 2013. Would this be a current media release?

  • January 3, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Hazard reduction burns have been carried out for 60,000 years.
    They are a cool burn, commenced when the weather is cooler and the undergrowth not to dry.
    They were originally used by hunter gatherers to catch prey.
    The continued use over 60,000 years has changed the way the Australian flora germinates and grows.
    Some seeds need heat, some seeds need ash, some seeds need smoke, Some seeds are spread by birds and animals,
    BUT, it all comes down the the correct use of fire.
    Experiments by “science” over 15 years in the NT, determined every 18 months was the way to go.
    However, 20 years later it was found the original diversification of flora was diminishing.
    It was found, just as some species was appearing from seed, another fire burned it out.
    Maybe a random, non structured burn is what is required.
    After all The First settlers where wanderers, and at time didn’t revisit an area in 10 years, while others where 3-4-6-8 yearly and some almost permanently “settled”
    Hence the diversity.
    But Not the same patch every 18 months, it is after all a hazard burn

  • January 3, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    I love the way the Green supporters keep up the mantra “the greens are not in power in Federal or State politics”. They conveniently forget the third level of government, Shire Councils, where they have well and truly embedded their members and they now have a lot of power where the actual hazard burn areas are decided.

  • January 3, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    This article was published in 2013 and does not refer to the current (2019-2020) fires. I think Mr. Cannon should update or even delete this article as it is fueling a lot of bitter debate because people assume it is about the current fires.

  • January 4, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Utter rubbish and an insult to the huge numbers of Greens in rfs brigades who are all for fuel reduction. It’s a no-brainer. Besides, since when did the Greens have any say in govt forestry policy!

  • January 4, 2020 at 9:38 am

    To all the people commenting.
    The article was written in 2013 and is not talking about our current fires, although the information about hazard reduction still stands.
    ‘Green tape’ is not the same as ‘ the greens’

  • January 4, 2020 at 10:43 am

    Well there you go. A denialist is speaking for all volunteer firefighters.
    I wonder if some of them actually think climate change is the major factor here?
    Does the same argument, that greens are behind a build up of fuel go for the entire country?
    Are the greens that powerful that they dictate HRB policy?
    And this post comes after another post from you explaining how safe windows to burn are getting smaller.

  • January 4, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    To those who don’t comprehend how The Greens make policy when not in Government, have little understanding of local politics. Virtually every Council has several “Green” Councillors who direct policy, obfuscate common sense action and do often hold sway over local Authorities, often the ones who control land management. They are a powerful, ill-directed group of ideologues who foist their misguided beliefs on the country at-large.

  • January 5, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    Hi VFFA, I’m a long time volunteer with Qld RFS. While obviously not as serious or extensive as in NSW, the Qld fires this year were by far the worst ever in Queensland, in scale and intensity as in NSW. I’m also a long time conservationist. Am puzzled by your claim that ‘green lobby groups’ have said that climate change is more important that hazard reduction burning. And that greens ideology opposes hazard reduction burning. These are very serious accusation. What green lobby group said that? I have not heard any green lobby group say that and I’m genuinely interested if anyone did? This is a strange slur that’s travelling around at the moment. But no-one has produced an actual conservation organisation that has ever said that. And even if you can find an individual or two that said that- as Labor and Liberals and Nationals are in power, I’m not sure why ‘the greens’ can be responsible. Please, this is not the time for inflammatory conspiracy theories. You have a responsibility to your membership not to do that. Like dozens of other conservation minded firefighters I personally know I would happily do more hazard reduction burning if we can squeeze it into the shrinking winter season safely. Also I’m genuinely interested in the VFFA’s policy on climate change. Your statements above possibly imply that the VFFA has a policy that climate change doesn’t exist? Reduced hazard reduction burning, and climate change I would of thought are obviously working together to create these unprecedented conditions. As a fire-fighter I would have thought it was pretty obvious that the hotter, drier climate we are experiencing makes fires that start more likely to be more intense and extensive, and burn during a longer season. All of which we are experiencing in spades at the moment. But the YFFA is questioning that?? As Jason above has detailed simply above, this is indisputably the largest set of fires experienced in a southern Australian fire season, and the they may run for another 2 months yet. As above, I am not a member (as am in Queensland) but would appreciate seeing your policy on climate change and hazard reduction burning. As firefighters we collectively need to have fact based solutions to get the best possible protection for the people and environments we protect in the years ahead, warm rgds Barry

  • January 5, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    When will the far right stop blaming the greenies as they call them for everything. The Greens don’t hold power and more back burning has been done this year than ever. The drought has made burn offs harder even in the cooler months. And climate change denial doesn’t help us at all and a lack of leadership by this floundering Prime Minister
    Has only exacerbated a national tragedy

  • January 5, 2020 at 11:11 pm

    Stop this ridiculous anti-green rant. If it’s just to get elected then say so Mick.

    The real issue is proper funding .
    Have a read of the Exec summary – should have been $2 billion in preparation, training, ops and equipment since 2015 – but LNP prime ministers (several of them) could’t be bothered responding or funding the recommendations.

  • January 6, 2020 at 3:56 am

    Project into the fires your pet fear. They are caused by [insert your enemy here]. Then climb the mountain of righteous indignation. Quote statistics. Do a little twirl. Well done. Now retweet it and give yourself a little pat on the back.

  • January 6, 2020 at 4:20 am

    Are the police in Australia making arrests and accusing people who are trying to save their homes and properties from these wildfires, by setting backfires? This was done to the Hammonds in the United States.

  • January 6, 2020 at 7:14 am

    Latest research appears to indicate that not only does small hazard reduction not prevent major fires but actually exacerbates their damage by creating a greater fuel load. The timing and strength area of hazard reduction needs to be rethought. Larger areas with longer time frames between fires to allow for growth in diversity. Some of the current fires actually stopped after hitting old growth regeneration from old fire ground not burnt for 80 years

  • January 6, 2020 at 10:14 am

    Please show the publication date of this piece!

  • January 6, 2020 at 10:52 am

    David, that was written by Peter Cannon on 3rd of September 2013. The publish dates are showed below the posts and comments. I might investigate if we can move that up to the top.

  • January 6, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Trevor, the problem is that our hazard reduction burns are way too hot with acceptable scorch heights that are too high. We tend to wrap up a burn in a week-end with heaps of trucks and firefighters. This approach is giving burning a bad name.

  • January 6, 2020 at 11:06 am

    We don’t know, we doubt that this is occurring. We have heard that people have been charged for impersonating a fire officer.

  • January 6, 2020 at 11:32 am

    2013, the date is included in this early media release.

  • January 6, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    OK Bill Good, I’ll play your game. What are your figures for Greens ‘infiltrating’ local government, firstly (Australia-wide, that is), and manipulating policy regarding hazard reduction in the way you imply, secondly?

    There is a large elephant in the room, Bill. At some stage you’re going to have to look into its eyes.

  • January 9, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    2013 argues green tape and climate change concerns are blocking burns, 2014 posts Climate Change a real concern for increased fires. 2020 fails to update the statement. Causes wild propaganda to spread, does nothing about that. Who is blocking progress now?

  • January 9, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    If this is the case, why do both the fire commissioner of NSW, and the NSW fire chief say that political party influence has nothing to do with hazard reduction burns? I mean, The Greens only hold 2 seats, how would they put pressure on anyone over anything, they’re barely a party lol.

  • January 16, 2020 at 7:25 am


    Look at Germany.The Greens are not the Goverment.But Germany will close all Nuclearreactors soon and they want to close all Coal Mines.In some areas Diesel Cars are forbbiden,even if the smoke that came out is cleaner than the air before(specially in the Winter-Because of the Green Propaganda many people in Germany had again Ovens with wood and that is very dirty).
    New houses in germany must have some solar collectors.
    And the list goes on and on…
    And for what?
    Even the IPCC say that the temperature can only be reduced(ijn their MODELS-its not lik ethey say that is true100%-but most people dont understand that)0,0000xxxx Celsius.Thats a joke!Even 2 different Thermoemters will show a bigger difference.And thats why even the German Gov. dont wanted to answer this question!

    But they think they loose Voters,so they play the Green Game.

  • January 16, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    What is this bullshit page? Another place for the tin foil hat brigade to spew out their anti climate science propaganda? Lets blame the greens, …hang on a minute they aren’t in power, ok lets blame fuel loads,….mmm, forests were around 100s of 1000s of years before humans took it upon themselves to “manage” fuel loads. It can’t be the climate, I mean its not like fire burns with more ferocity in a hotter drier environment, FFS get your head out of your arses.

  • January 17, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    You forgot lightning… it was natures way of managing the landscape.

  • January 19, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    For those saying these are the most widespread fires on record – that’s not the case. The fires in the mid seventies burned over 100 million hectares, almost 15% of Australia’s landmass.

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