‘Absolute mayhem’: RFS shake-up urged in wake of Green Valley bushfire

David Johnston reported in the Illawarra Mercury on May 24th that the Greater Hume Shire is pushing for NSW Rural Fire Service top brass to take more notice of local knowledge and authorities and fix major communications glitches in future major bushfires.

In a submission prepared for the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry completed this week, the council has recommended the officer in charge on the ground have increased authority in how out of control fires were managed.

Communications were also so bad on one day in early January a council staff member drove from Culcairn to Melbourne to purchase four satellite phones and 20 GPS units to ensure council staff safety.

Communications were also so bad on one day in early January a council staff member drove from Culcairn to Melbourne to purchase four satellite phones and 20 GPS units to ensure council staff safety.

Read the full story here.

Stomp Wines will be donating 10% of all sales of their 2020 Rose to the Broke Rural Fire Brigade

The singelton Argus reports that the Stomp Wines vineyards, located at the base of the Brokenback Range, suffered a prolonged fire season which posed a very real threat to the Broke districts homes and vineyards.

Indebted to community spirit and the incredible hard work and dedication of the amazing Rural Fire Service, they made it through the devastating fire season.

The McManus’s Stomp Wines’ vineyards traditionally begin harvesting in late January, their fruit however like many vineyards in the district and in neighbouring Pokolbin did not escape unscathed.

Their vineyards were affected by the smoke from the fires, leaving them with just one wine from the 2020 vintage.

In thanks to the local Bush Fire Brigade for keeping their village and surrounding properties safe they decided to put this one wine under the new label – Cape Series.

Why the Cape Series? Alluding to the fact that not all heroes wear capes, Stomp Wines will be donating 10% of all sales of this wine to the Broke Rural Fire Brigade.

Royal commission into bushfire crisis begins hearings with focus on impact of climate change

While the public submissions to the Royal Commission have closed, the hearings have started. You can view all the hearings on the commission website.

The ABC reported that

This first round of hearings will go for two weeks and will focus on three key areas: the role of climate change, the impact on communities and the environment, and what the Commonwealth’s responsibilities in situations like this are.

First on the witness list today is the Bureau of Meteorology, followed by the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia.

The commission is also expected to hear a first-hand account of the fires, and later from financial and risk management organisations, one of which specialises in catastrophe-modelling solutions.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, all hearings are being done electronically and streamed online.

The commissioners are expected to hand down their report by the end of August to allow time for the implementation of any recommendations before the next bushfire season.

Rural Fire Service brigades blown away by generous donation

A number of local Rural Fire Service (RFS) brigades are set to be better equipped to deal with bushfires thanks to a number of generous donations from across the Canobolas zone.

The Cowra Guardian reported that

30 high-powered blowers will be distributed to brigades such as Mt McDonald, Wyangala, Barryrenie and Gooloogong.

Canobolas Zone RFS operations manager, Brett Bowden said the blowers can be used in a variety of ways.

“They can be used for extinguishing small fires by blowing them out but more correctly, they are actually used to clear little containment lines for fires,” he said.

Bushfire-impacted koalas in NSW monitored in new study set to boost survival rates

The SBS reported that a bushfire-impacted koala rescued during the devastating summer bushfires in New South Wales has been released back into the wild after nearly six months in care.

Affectionately named ‘Kellie’, the two-year-old native marsupial was returned to the bush on Friday and will form part of a new koala rehabilitation study led by conservationists.

Property owners Christine and George Hennessy evacuated before what was called the ‘mega-bushfire’ in the NSW Blue Mountains reached their home on 21 December.

The Kurrajong Hills couple said when they returned to assess the damage in the following days, they were shocked to find their home had been destroyed but that a koala had survived.

Bushfire-impacted towns on the NSW South Coast call for more specialised fire training in high schools

The ABC reported that residents in regional New South Wales want specialised bushfire education programs added to the state’s high school curriculum.

Several South Coast towns were ravaged during the summer’s bushfire crisis, with multiple lives lost and hundreds of homes destroyed.

High school students, some who helped defend their communities, have said bushfire prevention and land management training would better prepare children for the upcoming season.

Moss Vale Year 11 student Thomas Gillis, helped defend the town of Penrose on Boxing Day.

“We had the RFS [Rural Fire Service] come to our school, but we haven’t had any substantial training that taught you about prevention and management,” Thomas said.

“And in high school there seems to be less of a focus on it.

“They shouldn’t just be teaching us about the fire aspect, we also want to learn about land management.”

‘Our lack of power’: Protection against electricity failures during dangerous bushfires highlighted

The Bega District News reported that a volunteer fire brigade and a surf club turned evacuation centre have received some essential federal funding for equipment to better prepare for the upcoming bushfire season, while other fire brigades have missed out.

Nethercote rural fire brigade received $1500 for a generator, essential during dangerous and possibly extended power failures similar to the one experienced during the devastating ‘Black Summer’ bushfires, which destroyed hundreds of homes and claimed numerous lives.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston, whose office handed out the funds as part of a National Volunteer Week announcement, said the “bushfires had a devastating impact on many of our people and communities”, now “living through a global pandemic”.

“Volunteers freely give their time and skills to support others and will play a key role in communities over the next few months. This funding recognises the sacrifices they make to help deliver vital services to those who need it most,” Ms Ruston said.

During the fires in January this year the Nethercote area lost power for a week, the brigade said in their application.

“This generator will mean that operations at the fire shed can be carried out normally if there is a power failure.”

NSW Farmers Natural Disaster Relief Fund bushfire relief

The Bombala Times reported that NSW Farmers is inviting bushfire-affected primary producers on the south coast to apply for a $3000 grant through the NSW Farmers Natural Disaster Relief Fund.

“Whether you had country, infrastructure, or livestock damaged or destroyed or your farm business was significantly impacted by the recent bushfires, this grant is designed to assist you with the recovery process,” NSW Farmers vice president Chris Groves said.

The grant provides a one-off $3,000 payment for eligible primary producers located in 2019-2020 declared NSW Bushfires disaster areas.

“It’s not a large amount given the significant impact of these bushfires, but farmers can decide the best way to use the grant to help with their farm recovery.”

“This is a limited one-time opportunity. Applications will close as soon as grant funds are fully allocated.”

“The Bushfire Relief Grants have been made possible through individual and corporate donations to the NSW Farmers Bushfire Disaster Appeal. We sincerely thank the Perich Group, the Goodman Foundation, Stockland Care for their support.”

Primary producers can check the eligibility criteria and apply online at www.nswfarmers.org.au or contact NSW Farmers on (02) 9478 1009 to apply over the phone or to request a hardcopy form

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