Grass fire dangers

Grass fire dangers

Machinery
The upgrading of fire fighting technology in the past two decades has made the protection of agricultural property for landowners easier, says Kikoria producer Mark Hoskinson

The upgrading of fire fighting technology in the past two decades has made the protection of agricultural property for landowners easier, says Kikoria producer Mark Hoskinson

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OUT of control private hazard reduction burns caused more than 30 fires across NSW late last month, threatening agricultural property.

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OUT of control private hazard reduction burns caused more than 30 fires across NSW late last month, threatening agricultural property.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) and NSW Farmers are banding together to promote safe burning practises in the lead up to a season of perfect fire conditions.

The Bureau of Meteorology indicated southern NSW to have a 60 per cent to 65pc chance of exceeding median temperatures during September to November and 30pc to 50pc chance of exceeding median rainfall figures in the same period.

NSW RFS fire mitigation officer Monaro team Fred Nichols said the main concern for his region was grasslands and said landholders must be aware of the threat and the risks associated with burning grasses for agricultural and hazard reduction purposes.

He said in the past two to three weeks there had been eight fires escape hazard reduction burns in his area.

Mr Nichols said in the Monaro, “we are heavily infested in Lovegrass. It kills off in winter and comes up in summer. It’s just going mad”.

“When burning Lovegrass, every landholder must ensure they are adequately prepared by having fire fighting equipment on hand such as a full knapsack, an operational spray pump and a plentiful water supply.”

Mr Nichol said landowners should contact the NSW RFS before burning off to be advised of the precautions they needed to have in place.

“This includes making sure your local brigade is aware of when you intend to burn, the size of the burn and location of the burn,” he said.

NSW Farmers Rural Affairs Committee member Graham Brown said people needed to think strategically in conjunction with other property owners to prepare for the bushfire season.

“One of the biggest difficulties we have is the lack of full time, permanent people on properties, and the lack of property owners on their places.”

Mr Brown said the NSW RFS would strategically place support networks across the State.

“We will be hoping for Spring rain to take the sting out of it.”

Mr Brown’s property at Orange was “burnt out” in 1985, following the 1979 to 1985 drought, a period that was not so dissimilar to NSW’s current state.

Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre’s deputy chief executive officer and research director Dr Richard Thornton said a seasonal bushfire outlook map released last month showing average forecasts for most of the country should be taken seriously, because an “average” season would contain fires, more commonly grass fires.

“The significant thing about grass fires is they may not be as intense as bushfires but they develop very quickly and are just as dangerous.”

Dr Thornton said preparation tips such as those supplied by the NSW RFS were crucial.

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