This straight to the point and common-sence letter was sent to the VFFA, it originated from bushfire scientist, David Packham.

Sent: Tuesday, 6 January 2015 9:39

Subject: Not fire weather but personal observation

We have had some serious but modest fires over the last few days.

Some media who love such misadventure have blown the fire events beyond all proportion.

Don’t get me wrong, these fires are traumatic for those involved and to loose a house is often to feel that you have lost your life. Compared for what the Governments and fire agencies are setting us up for, the recent fire in Vic, SA and WA are modest.

The next few days should be zero fire events. The synoptic chart shows a large high south of the mainland with very moist easterly winds along the entire East coast and a wet tropical connection.

The forecast dew points are very very high, around 15 – 18 degrees.

Very hard to get a fire to burn unless there is a lot of dry fuel under the surface layers and a good bit of wind to help.

Some rainfall predictions show large rain that could remove big fire risk for the rest of the month, however other predictions and a daily changing tropical pattern do not show as happy a prospect. We will watch the next few days unfold without the distraction of fires.

To have fires under these conditions tells me that the Southern Australian fuels are even greater than my estimate of an average of 20 to 30 tonnes per hectare and the most dangerous for 50,000 years are too conservative.

To have a fire warning out for a fire traveling with a south wind under these conditions is an indication of the terrible threat we face if we were were to have a truly bad fire event.

Those who have allowed this threat to manifest are the truly culpable, no wonder the Victorian Government was prepared to pay out $104m for their failure in the Kinglake fire to avoid the Supreme Court judgement.

I notice from the media reporting of the Vic-SA fires several issues that indicate a continuing path into a future fire event that could finally result in a less suicidal Government policy direction that might emerge after a Canute moment by a real leader.

Except for a day with very dry air the fire danger index in some areas was less than forecast sometimes by a half. This reflects the very complex fire weather system that is currently with us. The Bureau did a great job once again.

With out the current fire weather forecasting skills we would be in an even worse situation.

The lack of private farmers fire trucks and utes at the grass fires shown on TV suggests to me that either the media is being controlled in what it shows or the traditional and effective rapid response with massive local forces has been prevented by CFA policies to remove local private fire trucks and utes and subvert local fast response to be replaced by slower aerial attack.

The continuing interfering of human rights by Police and Fire agency policy of road closures adding to human distress and animal cruelty.

The apparent lack of effectiveness of aerial firefighting validates the 10 years of research by the US Forest Service in Montana and the Chisholm 3 years research in the 1980s. That it is expensive and is ineffective is no surprise.

The exposure of citizens on frozen roads with massive fuels on the roadsides by a very small (120 hectares or so) fire in what must have been a neglected high fuel unnatural area at Hastings.

Leave early and live (to later die in a burning crashed car along a bush road ) but also an official crawler message on ABC News Channel that says stay near shelter? Who is confused?

The nonsense of sending a handful of volunteers with their special wheeled luggage to “Save” another state with care to ensure TV coverage.

The use of the serious and grim address by our leaders to manipulate the public for very many individual reasons , some even sincere.

Clever and senior folk that I know reach for the mute control when this public relations stuff appears.

If 173 deaths were not enough in Victoria for all or any part of Southern Australia to look honestly to return our environment to Australia Felix how much death, human misery, native animal loss, and environmental damage before we take on the wisdom of the Australian People.

Do we have a leader who understands fire and will fix this mess?

In sorrow and distress


Not fire weather but personal observation – David Packham
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