AUSTRALIA – Property owners are being urged to manage fire risks on their land and to mitigate any potential threats as the 2020 bushfire season kicks off.
After last year’s horrific bushfire season, which burnt 1.6 million hectares of agricultural land and at least 1 million hectares of conservation land across Queensland, some home owners are reaching out to their local fire crews for assistance.
Emu Park landowner Peter Donaghy lives in a bushfire prone area and was approached by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service to implement a fire management plan for his large, overgrown property.
“QFES linked us up with our rural fire brigade and the rural fire brigade made an offer to come out and assist in measuring conditions before the burn, which then gave me the confidence to successfully undertake that burn,” Mr Donaghy said.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the support we received from QFES but also from the local fire brigade.
“They came here and assisted with the burn, gave me the tools to develop the fire management plan, and to understand how we calculate the fire risk.”
Mr Donaghy has lived at his Emu Park property for three years and says the previous owners had difficulty in controlling a blaze which came close to their house.
“One of the concerns we have with the property is that there are quite a few subdivided lots around us now with houses on them, and controlling the impacts on those houses,” he said.
“Developing a plan and understanding how fires burn and what you can do to manage that risk makes it a much more achievable task, so I think if more landholders reached out and got support to develop their plans, it would be a lot less daunting.”
After observing the impacts of the last bushfire season, and knowing some of the people that were affected, Mr Donaghy didn’t want to become too complacent.
QFES Assistant Commissioner Darryl King, central region manager Brian Smith and Peter Donaghy at his property in Emu Park, inspecting the recent aftermath of Operation Cool Burn.
Rural Fire Service Queensland central region manager Brian Smith said QFES have completed 104 high risk activities for hot-spots that were of high risk in those communities.
“It is a great outcome that included hazard reduction activities through burning, through slashing and also putting firebreaks and other mitigation processes in place,” Mr Smith said.
“Having a buffer around your property and cleaning up around your property is so important.”
However, Mr Smith cautioned local residents taking matters into their own hands and not working with QFES to conduct hazard burns on their property.
Mr Smith said a fire greater than 2×2 metres required a permit, which could be obtained by engaging with the local fire warden.
“That is always a challenge for us and that’s why we have our fire wardens and our permit system in place,” he said.
Operation Cool Burn, otherwise known as hazard reduction burns, has minimal affect on the native fauna and flora, compared to the uncontrollable effects of an out of control fire.
QFES central region Assistant Commissioner Daryl King said Operation Cool Burn has been the best success they’ve had in years with regards to the amount of hazard reduction burns completed.
“Its predominant role is to build fire lines to protect properties and people, so although it might not drop directly on a fire, it will build strategic fire retardant lines that do direct or stop the fires path that may impact on a community,” Mr King said.
“10,000 litres and just 10 minutes to fill up; it is available within the central region within the hour, which is going to be a huge asset for us over over the next five years.”
However, some people have criticized the purchase, including Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland general manager Justin Choveaux, who said that money should have been going to more fire trucks and boots on the ground.
The $15 million long-term Large Air Tanker Bomber 141 will be based in Bundaberg.
However, Mr Smith said they’ve just increased the fleet within the central region by two appliances through a supportive fund with Queensland foreign emergency services.
“We’ve also just got a number of new appliances in the central region, so we’re comfortable at the moment with the resources we have, in the locations that we have them,” Mr Smith said.
“The strategic asset of that water bomber would do so much more than a truck can do in the right location at the right time.
“So it works in combination with our brand resources, but is an important asset that we have in Queensland now.”
Visit QFES for more information on how to make your bushfire survival plan here.