BUSH FIRES

          Do you want to be cremated by incompetence this fire season?

          Once again, bush fires prove the weakness of the Federal Government. As with COVID, Islamic terrorism and the Chinese invasion, the Federal Government has little control over state and local governments; therefore bush fires continue annually, unnecessarily, to devastate our struggling country.

          My first experience of a serious bush fire was in 1967 (Black Tuesday – 62 dead, 1,300 homes destroyed) – a real disaster – it changed the taste of the beer. There were fires before this. I was working at the Cascade Brewery stacking barley bags, when we noticed a fire at lunch break. We reported it to our supervisor who said. ‘Get back to work. If it enters brewery property, we’ll get you out fighting it.’ At the 3.30 beer break, a man ran into the barley store shouting. ‘Run for your life.’ As we left (without our belongings) there was a roaring cloud of burning gasses and vegetation completely swirling over us. I stopped running to see a house further up the valley explode in flames. One lady ran past shouting, ‘Stand in the water at Sandy Bay Beach’. On resuming work, we found this fire had not burnt up to the brewery buildings, but some had been burnt out. It was later found that falling burning vegetation had set alight dry vegetation in the roof guttering. Also, that many years of vegetation build up in the hills behind had become a tinder box. The fire affected the water catchment area changed the water for beer production – what an utter disaster – we had to drink VB for months. One thing that was learnt was that houses could burn down that were a long way from the fire. Forensic research revealed that burning debris that fell into a roof gutter ignited the tinder dry debris there. This fire then spread up under the roof burning the rafters which then fell into the house causing the rest to burn. Spot fires are caused by a similar process. Ground fighting may not be sufficient, as clouds of burning gasses can race away overhead. It is not fair to leave fire fighting up to a individual volunteers (30,000).  

          Since then, every summer, we hear of lives lost and immense property damage. Ash Wednesday (Victoria & SA 1983) killed 75 with 1,900 homes destroyed.  Black Saturday (2009 Victoria) killed 173 people with 2,000 homes destroyed. Since records began, over 800 people have been killed by bushfires – all because of human negligence. The 1974-75 fires burnt out 15% of Australia and the 2019-20 fires killed an estimated 2 billion animals – that’s just one fire out of thousands. In the 2020 Kangaroo Island fire an estimated 50,000 koalas either died in the fire or starved to death afterwards. Many other species, also, cannot escape a bushfire vis,frogs and skinks and some are now on the verge of extinction vis western ground parrot, Leadbetter’s possum, Mallee emu-wren and Gilbert’s potaroo. Stock get trapped in paddocks and at Batlow ( NSW, 2020) even the kangaroos could not outrun that fire.

          Tens of thousands of people, caught by surprise, have had to be evacuated with some crowding onto beaches – all caused by avoidable human error.

           Even a blind man can see that the danger zone stretches from SA, through northern Vic to southern NSW – a zone between the tropical wetter area and the temperate one. One report indicated that ‘green’ local councils were prevented from clearing away vegetation that would ultimately cause the spread of a fire.  Many pictures of burnt out houses depicted trees growing right next to the walls with the yard full of old tyres and cars. Those that have endured the largest number of home losses are tree-changers who have little knowledge or skills in fire prevention – all bleating that they never imagined such a fire could happen. This was also learnt from the brewery fire. The bush behind had accumulated a thickening layer of combustible vegetation for over a decade. It only took a couple of hot days, a camp fire and a strong wind to cause a disaster. I visited the Tasman Peninsula immediately after the Dunally fire (a similar scenario). The houses nearby that were saved, were those where the owners cleared away combustible material from around their house vis 50 metre radius, cut dry grass to the minimum, filled their guttering with water (socks in downpipes and a large water tank) and stayed to douse falling embers with spray back packs,  buckets of water and beaters. Those that did not implement fire minimization techniques lost everything. Local Councils must be told to issue clean-up orders.

          There have been cases where water bombers are not available because they have to come from overseas and they are needed there. In other cases, back burning has got out of control. Most fires are caused by deliberate arson or carelessness, but there will still be fires caused by dry lightening and power lines, but surely we can eliminate those caused by human incompetence. Some birds have even learnt to pick up burning sticks and drop them elsewhere to start fires. They do this to expose food – so ‘no fires’ is the rule.

          Although we are still officially in winter (and well before the wet season in Brisbane), the ‘fire season’ is with us. In mid August I noticed a section of Mt Coot-tha had already been burnt out. A hotter spring has come early ( in my suburb), so start implementing precautions now.

          Every year my household insurance rockets up. On querying this I was told it is needed to pay for the fire insurance claims. Higher risk clients must pay higher premiums. These companies must be forced to do on-site inspections to match fire risks with premiums. I must not be expected to pay for the ‘green’ and/or irresponsible/ignorant practices of others.

          Anyone concerned about global warming/climate change has to eliminate bushfire smoke. Its largest component is carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide – major contributors to rising temperatures. 75% of our carbon emissions come from bush fires and we are a major contribution to world emissions – so it would be better to eliminate these before coal fired power stations. Smoke also contains many other toxins, with Canberra (2020) recording the worst air pollution in the world. It is also just not a bush event. In 2019-20 fires around Sydney entered the suburbs at Como and  Jannali. This can be very extensive as smoke and ash have reached New Zealand from fires in NSW.

          Similarly with health problems. Bushfire smoke can exacerbate asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, angina, stroke, heart attack, diabetes and loss of weight in unborn children

          On 24 /8/2021 ABC 7 News QLD  reported details of a review into the Fraser Island bushfire which started in October 2020 – a recent case study. It started from an illegal camp fire and burnt, out of control, for two months through 85,000 hectares, comprising 50%,  of K’Gari country, moving from North to South. No lives were lost and no property destroyed but it did threaten some villages and one woman said the flora and fauna would never return.  The Parks & Wildlife Dept. rejected offers to use water bombers, saying it ‘…didn’t pose a threat to life or property…not that bad…water bombers not affective in the swamp…unnecessarily alarmist…would scare people off for Christmas bookings…inconsequential’ It was probably more about water bombers costing $12,000/hr. The QLD Fire & Emergency Service took over the fire fighting. It took three weeks before water bombers were used but the fire was finally doused by rain. This is clearly a case of Government negligence, incompetence and inadequate coordination.  

          We have not effectively implemented any lessons learned since 1967 – bush fires continue to wreck an increasing devastation on people’s property, incomes and sanity. In the 2021/2022 summer, there should be NO BUSHFIRE THAT ENDANGERS property or lives. Over the last 15 million years, Australia has been gradually drying out – this is clearly evident with the remnants of the lush Gondwanna forests still surviving in deep moist valleys. It is less to do with ‘climate change’ and more to do with incompetent people.

          Irresponsible/ignorant/ ‘green’ people cannot expect volunteers to risk their lives for them.

          This is a Federal defence element. What if China was to drop fire bombs in in combustible regions at the right time. This would bring us to our knees.  

          My recommendation is that we need a Federally controlled Bush Fire Service that is staffed by full time professionals and has its own water bombers. These people are then supported by the Army/Navy/Air Force/ Emergency Service et al if necessary. We should be world leaders in bush fire control – if in doubt – bomb. As soon as a bush fire is reported they swing into action and have the power to overrule other services such as Parks and Wildlife, Main Roads, local councils, private landowners etc. i.e. they are an integral part of our national security.

And, just like COVID, as a deterrent – a $50,000 fine for an illegal fire ( or any other e.g. high fire danger days, inc. cultural fires).

          In WE Aus. Of 11/9/2021 Bjorn Lomberg reported, ‘US fires frequently get blamed on climate, but the real reason is mostly on poor forest management.’ This is likely to be the case in Aus.

          We need politicians who can think ahead – much like chess players – rather than ones who take months to react.

          If Scottie is not up to eliminating bush fires, then he needs to be replaced by stronger Coalition person who will.