Much of the focus today has been on the NSW Enquiry and the Governments acceptance of its findings IN THEIR ENTIRETY.

Here is Gladys making the announcement on her Facebook page.

This is actually a segment from the main press conference that was conducted at the RFS HQ. Watch this here.

The report was completed in 6 months by Mary O’Kane and Dave Owen.

Mary O’Kane
Dave Owen

The report can be downloaded here.

David Elliott made a number of comments as part of the conference.

These include:

  • He wants to see the operation of our 70,000 volunteers as world’s best practice
  • Mental health of volunteers is a key concern and the report makes a number of recommendations in this area
  • 120 new vehicles had already been authorised for the RFS
  • A further 70 vehicles were being upgraded
  • 100 extra firefighter positions have been approved for mitigation work. 94 of these are already hired
  • 1,967 submissions were received from the community and many other parties
  • There will be a stronger focus on aviation assets and early intervention
  • RFS volunteers will be given training on koala preservation
  • There was little real criticism in the report on the RFS management of the last fire season

There are a number of recommendations involving the Emergency Management functions of state and local government and Shane Fitzsimmons will have overall responsibility to implement the recommendations as part of his Resilience role.

Aviation Assets

The ABC reported ahead of the announcement that the Government was planning to acquire a number of Super Scoopers.

The Super Scooper refers to the Viking 515 and its variants.

This is the spec sheet for this aircraft and it claims more than double the water drop per day than can be achieved by its nearest competitor the DC10 that we had based here this summer.

The report contains a graph supporting this claim and its interesting that this aircraft is used by Calfire (amongst others) and Calfire have an operational target of getting on a fire in less than 20 minutes.

The press conference did not confirm the ABC’s report.

Fortescue manages bushfire threat from space

IT News reported that Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) has developed a remote sensing tool to protect its staff and assets in the Pilbara by understanding the past impact and incidence of bushfires.

The ASX-listed miner’s health and safety team partnered with its geospatial services division to develop the new capability using multi-spectral satellite data fed into complex algorithms to identify traces of previous fires.

By analysing and identifying vegetation that had previously been burnt, FMG was able to create ‘fire scar’ mapping that showed the age and amount of regrowth since previous fires, the company said in its annual sustainability report [pdf].

‘Fuel age’ data, as FMG refers to it, can be used to determine the potential severity of a bushfire when combined with other data including the vegetation type, density and surrounding terrain.

It can be used to map out the best places to conduct low-intensity prescribed burns to reduce the amount of combustible material and create a more varied landscape of fuel ages.

The Australian National University’s Institute for Space is working on a similar project where a constellation of mini-satellites is set up to gather data to help inform emergency agencies such as the NSW Rural Fire Service on how they can manage fuel loads to try and prevent a repeat of the previous fire season’s unprecedented 240-day long run of bushfires.

FMG has already been able to act on insights gathered from the project, undertaking a prescribed burn near the accommodation village at its Christmas Creek mine earlier this year.

In addition to reducing the risk to workers’ safety and the company’s assets, the ongoing bushfire risk management program is set to minimise disruption at the remote facilities.

RFS readies for call from California as wildfires turn deadly

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that specialists from the NSW Rural Fire Service could soon be assisting in the fight against deadly wildfires raging across California, with a request for assistance expected to be just days away.

Its hard to see Covid making this a reality, but the situation in California is prety dire.

Wildfire Today reported this map of the lightning strikes that have trioggered so many fires.

The Pacific Gas & Electric Fire map is excellent. Turn everything on at the top bar and this si what you will get:

You can then click on the Alert Wildfire cameras and have a look at the fire or you can access them directly here.

This is the Calfire map and summary and its pretty terrifying. At the time of writing:

  • 1,514,687 acres burnt
  • 7,012 incidents
  • 7 fatalities
  • 1,689 structures lost

Parkes New RFS Shed Officially Opens

 Mid Lachlan Valley district manager Superintendent Ken Neville checks out the progress of the new station in Hanlon Street. Photo: Barbara Reeves

This was the Parkes shed being built in March as reported by the RFS.

Its now finished and this is the report from their Facebook page:

Today we had the privilege of being joined by NSW Rural Fire Service Assistant Commissioner Peter McKechnie , Area Commander Chief Superintendent Ian Stewart, Sam Farraway MLC, Mayor Ken Keith, Councillor Neil Westcott and Team Manager Superintendent Ken Neville to officially open our brand new four bay $870,000 station. We were also luckily enough to have a number of long service medals presented to members for the time with the NSW Rural Fire Service. All of our members are so grateful to all level of Government (Federal, State and Local) and to the NSW Rural Fire Service and Mid Lachlan Valley Team for being able to make this station happen.

  • Brian Broadbere – 10 Years Medal
  • Hayley Chester – 10 Years Medal
  • Steve Chester – 10 Years Medal
  • Jenny Baker – 10 Years Medal
  • Rachel Bailey – 10 Years Medal
  • Scott Baker – 20 Years Clasp
  • Frank Guise – 10 Years Medal
  • David Hodges – 30 Years Clasp
  • Anne Jackson – 30 Years Medal (Posthumous – presented to family)
  • Absent was:
    • Robert McConkey (50 years)
    • Joel Breaden (10 years)
    • Ken Ladbury (20 years)

A very special mention to the amazing Rapid Relief Team AU for providing a beautiful lunch for us all. Thank you to everyone who came and shared this special day with us!

Some photos were also shared:

Last summer’s bushfire season in top five disasters for insurance payouts

Legal Aid NSW lawyer Sharlene Naismith provides advice at a disaster recovery centre

The ABC reported that last summer’s destructive bushfire season now rates as one of the top five disasters in terms of insurance claims — but thousands are still waiting for theirs to be settled.

Insurance Council of Australia’s Karl Sullivan said the bushfires had cost the industry $2.4 billion.

“We run a database that tracks disasters over the last 40 years. This is number five in the list based solely on dollars,” Mr Sullivan said.

“There are other events like the Sydney hailstorm, Cyclone Tracy, the Newcastle earthquake, that are larger in terms of cost, but at $2.4 billion, this comes in at number five.”

The insurance industry’s peak body said its members had received 30,000 claims, with NSW accounting for three-quarters of them.

The bushfires began a year ago with the first homes lost in the north of the state from mid-August.

The fires went on to hit large tracts of the Mid-North Coast, Hunter, Southern Highlands, Central West, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Snowy Mountains, Riverina, Shoalhaven and South Coast, destroying more than 2,400 homes.

“The total paid in terms of cash and services that have been delivered on the ground, including temporary accommodation sits at around $1.8 billion so far.” Mr Sullivan said.

The insurance industry said smaller claims had taken three to five months to settle and that some building supplies were in short supply due to COVID-19.

As a result, some claims involving more complex building could take 12 to 18 months for those living in regional areas, Mr Sullivan said.

During the disaster and for months afterwards, Legal Aid NSW deployed 65 solicitors to bushfire-affected areas throughout the state and provided advice to 835 people.

Almost half of the requests for assistance were related to issues with insurance.

“We saw a lot of people who were underinsured or who the cash settlement being offered by the insurer was simply not going to be enough to cover the rebuild.” Legal Aid NSW’s Sally Bryant said.

The Insurance Council of Australia estimates 20 to 40 per cent of bushfire-affected residents were underinsured.

“Some people haven’t purchased enough insurance at all,” Mr Sullivan said.

“And you will find very quickly that the scope of works or the rebuilding cost will be higher than the amount of insurance that they have purchased.

“In those circumstances, there is sadly not a lot of room for negotiation.”

Tathra experience important in understanding firefighting challenges, bushfire inquiry told

Bega District News reported that day 14 of the 2018 Reedy Swamp/ Tathra bushfire coronial inquiry has heard there were failures at a management level to recognise the possible devastating impacts embers could have on homes and property on the day of the fire.

Geoff Conway from the Advisory Committee on Firefighters Presumptive Rights told the inquiry he agreed telephone transcripts from the day of the fire exposed gaps in the intelligence involved in responding to the fire.

The March 18, 2018, fire destroyed 65 homes, 35 caravans and cabins and damaged further 48 homes in and around Tathra, displacing 700 residents and visitors.

Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott said concerns from firefighters on the ground about the potential impact of embers from the fire were not fully recognised by incident management teams in both Bega and Sydney on the day.

News Roundup August 25th
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