Govt, council, Gympie residents prepare for bushfire season
A piece by Gympie Regional councillor Dan Stewart
KILKIVAN-Widgee, Upper Kandanga, Peregian Springs, Sandy Creek Rd, Cherwell River, Golden Hills Rd, Greens Creek; the fires I attended during fire season last year.
Other rural fire brigade members attended far more fires. Not to be heroes, but simply to help keep our community safer.
Members of rural fire brigades were once mainly farmers. Now they come from many walks of life, public servants, retired, business owners, factory workers, farm hands.
They are not always available. Or maybe they are in town on business and have a 15 minute drive to get to the their rural fire
station. The fire brigade uniform is waiting in the back of the car for a faster response.
What can government do to be prepared?
Before the last fire season the state government had fuel reduction burns on well over a million hectares of national parks and other state lands. Much the same would have happened this year. Gympie Regional Council also does fuel reduction burns.
Recently the state government purchased a $15 million aircraft that can carry 10,000 litres of water and fire retardant. The plane is based at Bundaberg.
Much of the state emergency services levy on rural rates notices goes helps to fund rural fire brigades. Local brigades no longer have to pay for fuel or put deposits down on trucks, nor pay for protective clothing and equipment, among other things.
Council also charges a $25 per rural property levy, most goes to the local rural fire brigade, but some is pooled to be distributed as needed.
But what can we do to be prepared?
- If you live in a bush area ensure there is cleared land around your house and other important assets. It need not be bare land, but land that is mown, slashed or grazed. You can ask your local rural fire brigade to assess your property and provide advice on fire safety and protecting your assets.
- Ensure you have an easily accessible large quantity of water that can be used for fire fighting. If your rain water supply is used up to save your house, you can then buy town water in for drinking and bathing.
- In a worse case scenario, where is a safe place for you to go? Do you have two escape routes from your house and property.
Your safety is the first priority. Firefighters in the first instance ensure people are safe. You are better of escaping and staying alive than trying to save an asset that is about to burn down.
And be careful with cigarette butts and any other smouldering material.
The fire that burnt down Binna Burra in the Gold Coast hinterland was started by a cigarette butt.
A cigarette butt flicked from a passing vehicle was the likely cause of a roadside fire at Sandy Creek.
by Gympie Regional councillor Dan Stewart