Enough talk over fire prevention

We keep winding up in the same place when each catastrophic fire season comes around

UNLIKE drought, which creeps through the boundary fence and quietly eats away at each individual’s business and the social well being of towns out of the government’s sight, a firestorm razes all in its path, making it impossible to ignore.

Media attention attracts politicians like moths to a flame to express empathy and explain all the government is doing to fight the fires.

Yet, we’re still reactively focused instead of being proactive.

With the number of reviews into bushfires one aspect is becoming clearer – genuine attempt for actioning real change fades soon after the last embers die and the media spotlight disappears.

The reviews – which are important for those hit by the fires to find answers as to why the devastation occurred – tend to be hijacked as political flag flying and in the midst of the finger pointing, the actioning of useful change is forgotten.

Any given review – and there have been a few – is no silver bullet, but we keep winding up in the same place when each catastrophic fire season comes around.

We know what could help – better preventative burning regimes, improved telecommunications, better fire trail access into national parks, research to grow our understanding, faster response times and so the list goes on.

Research is underway at the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre to understand the effect of fuel reduction fires on soils and vegetation.

However, the subject is treated as if we’ve never used fire in this country before.

We know with a mosaic pattern of cool fires we can reduce the risk of big fires without wiping out vegetation.

We did, after all, inherit an intact landscape from the Indigenous Australians.

So why can’t we put more resources into conducting more of these types of burns so we can achieve more when the conditions are right?

The status quo is only going to maintain the risk of extreme fires.

We’ve seen the alternative in the Canberra, Wambelong and Victoria’s Black Saturday fires, yet we still sit on our hands.

We need prospective action, not another review.

It seems a fire needs to be lit under our politicians before they’ll act, so let’s not allow them to forget that we want action.

The government's response to the Wambelong inquiry is due August 20.

Andrew Norris

Andrew Norris

is the editor of The Land
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


Eddie Randle
9/08/2015 6:46:06 AM

Maybe I can give you an instance that will help. In 1980 I sat at a meeting in Gympie about getting rid of the government workers. It was all about saving money for the government. Someone asked what about emergencies? I remember the answer well the top level public servant got up and said “If we work our heads right the idiot farmers and the idiot workers will do it for nothing.” It worked so well now we have the SES and the Rural Fire Brigades. Saved the government a mint you must admit.
28/08/2015 8:49:10 PM

Yes, I agree, mosaic pattern of cool fires can definitely reduce the risks of big fires. Today it is the responsibility of all of us to be a bit proactive when it comes to fire prevention. One can definitely consult some good companies like PRE for any questions regarding fire prevention. And yes, definitely "we need prospective action, not another review".
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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