Australia – SOUTH Australian communities will have an extra three days to prepare for severe and catastrophic fire danger days, and schools will be able to advise of closures sooner under a new warning system to be rolled out this year.
The new safety measure has been welcomed by victims of the Pinery Bushfire, which killed two people, injured 90 others and destroyed 91 homes in the states Mid North in November 2015.
The CFS and the Bureau of Meteorology are developing a new fire danger ratings system that will be able to advise the public of bushfire danger levels and potential fire bans four days ahead of time.
Fire danger ratings and bans are currently announced only at 4pm the day before severe or catastrophic fire risk weather is expected to occur.
Emergency Services Minister Peter Malinauskas told The Advertiser the new four-day forecast would be published on the CFS website by the start of the 2017-18 fire danger season.
The forecasts will give the community an indication of what the fire danger rating is likely to be each day, up to four days in advance, and will assist individuals, companies and government agencies to prepare, he said.
For example, companies that operate in fire risk areas will have more warning about the need to alter work plans when a severe to catastrophic fire danger rating is expected.
In addition, schools will have more time to advise parents of any potential closures, and we will be able to provide more notice on closure of national parks.
However, Mr Malinauskas said residents would still need to keep up-to-date with the latest fire danger ratings as weather forecasts could change. Ratings may be adjusted as updated forecasts come through, so it will be important for the community to continue to check ratings each day, he said.
Daveyston residents Jill and David Wehr almost lost their home during the Pinery Bushfire, admitting they werent prepared at all, and said earlier warnings would help plan for potential fires.
(We would be) making sure around the house was clear, all the sprinklers were set up where they should be, putting my computer in the car, a few blankets in the car and then hope that it doesnt happen, Ms Wehr said.
Jack and Jenny Gaertner, who lost 1000ha of crop, a shearing shed and fences at their Morn Hill farm during the Pinery blaze, also welcomed the new system.
It would be handy for quite a few people; half the time (my wife) Jenny doesnt know (the danger rating) unless I tell her, Mr Gaertner said.
It would give people time to get things organised so, if a fire was to happen, they could implement different things like filling gutters (with water).
CFS state operations director Rob Sandford said the new system would provide greater clarity to the community.
(It) will also assist our stakeholders with planning, such as local councils who issue permits during the fire danger season, and for farmers wanting to conduct burn-offs in the autumn months, he said.