The Brigade Area
This section of our website describes the physical and spacial dimensions of the Brigade area along with the particular challenges faced in providing responses to fire based emergencies. Also it offers some insights into how landowners and residents can pro actively assist in being fire ready.
The Malua Bay Rural Fire Brigade is classed as an “urban interface” brigade with significant concentrations of residential and commercial building stock interspersed in forested land. The closer settled area is predominantly along the coastline with larger house blocks and small farms on and behind the ridge line. The significant urban areas are Lilli Pilli, Malua Bay, Rosedale and Guerilla Bay. Much of the area is hilly to rugged making access to fighting fires and getting access to critical supplies like water a difficult task. Our brigade area boundary is generally from Grandfathers Gully Road in the north, along the coast to, but not including, Tomakin. Then generally along the Tomakin to Mogo Road and at the junction of Dunns Creek Road returning to Ridge Road where it joins with Grandfathers Gully Road. There are a few adjustments to this description. Our neighboring brigades are Surf Beach, Broulee and Mogo. You can see a map of the area by going to brigade area. One interesting aspect of the map is that it shows where the reticulated town water supply goes and the hydrants that we have access to water from. You can also get an appreciation of the vegetation "bush" coverage that needs to be considered when looking at intense wild fire potential.
Fire Prone Land
Most of the land in the brigade area is classified as what is known as "fire prone land" and it is worth dwelling on just what this classification means. Its impact is not only on identifying land that is likely to be effected by bush fire but then translates to building standards required for any new buildings constructed or any new extensions you may be considering.
In simple terms Bush fire prone land is land that is likely to be subject to bush fire attack and a Bush Fire Prone Land Map has been prepared for the Eurobodalla Shire area, you can see an image of the Malua Bay BFB area section of that map by going to Malua Bay area. The shires map was prepared following Rural Fire Service (RFS) guidelines and was certified by the RFS in accordance with Section 146 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979.
The map identifies three types of land and their likely risk from bush fire. It identifies two vegetation types indicative of bush fire threat with the balance area not being considered fire prone, the two vegetation areas are:
• ‘Vegetation Category 1' (coloured orange) is the most hazardous vegetation category, and refers to forest, woodlands, heath and wetlands greater than 1 hectare in size.
• 'Vegetation Category 2’ (coloured yellow) refers to moist forests, shrub lands, open woodlands, mallee, grasslands, and pockets of category 1 vegetation less than 1 hectare in size. ‘Category 2’ vegetation is at less risk from bush fire than category 1 land.
Also land that directly adjoins these bush land categories is also classified as 'Vegetation Buffer 100m & 30m' (coloured red). These are the areas in which developments and people are most likely to be affected by a bush fire burning in the adjacent land. The buffer area extends for a distance of 100 metres from the vegetation category 1 areas and for a distance of 30 metres from the vegetation category 2 areas.
While the brigade uses the map as a general indicator of potential bush fire threat many people have questions on how these classifications effect them when undertaking new buildings in these areas - the NSW RFS has a good section dedicated to frequently asked questions - if you have any further questions you should contact either Eurobodalla Shire Council before doing any new building works.
RFS Brigades in Eurobodalla
There are 26 brigades in Eurobodalla and as mentioned previously the Malua Bay Brigade is in Group North.
The brigades in Eurobodalla divided into three groups with approximately 800 volunteers, the groups are:
The Shire is situated on the South Coast of New South Wales, 280km from Sydney, 760km from Melbourne and 150km from Canberra. It is approximately 110km in length and 50km in width.
The climate of the area can best be described as mesothermal with long dry summers. It is influenced by the Pacific Subtropical and Subpolar Maritime Air Masses as well as the stable dry to very dry Subtropical Continental Air Mass.
Most of the area consists of uninhabited mountains and hills which fall from the rim of the plateau of the Southern Tablelands at about 1000-1100 metres at sea level to a narrow coastal lowland where settlement and economic activity are concentrated.
Temperature, humidity, rainfall and wind are all important components of weather that contribute to fire behaviour. All of these factors except for wind are considered in the BKDI (Byram-Keech Drought Index). An analysis of BKDI records for the Southern Region of NSW S.R.B.A (1994) show that relatively high BKDI levels exist along the coastal hinterland during the summer months.
Dry Winters and Springs are common in the Eurobodalla and August normally receives about 5% of the annual rainfall. Higher monthly rainfall is usually experienced in the months December to April, where 50% of the annual amount is received. Summer thunderstorms with lightning are a regular occurrence.
In the months December to May, winds are generally from the north-east to north-west with strong gusty southerly winds occurring on occasions. These 'southerly busters' have the potential to have a major impact on the control of wildfire situations.
Bush Fire Season
Despite what appears to be a late summer seasonal rainfall pattern and a moderating coastal influence on temperatures, the area shares with the rest of the NSW South Coast (and Victorian East Gippsland) a potential for long and severe bush fire seasons. Below normal winter rainfall can lead to the commencement of fire danger as early as August and a dry summer can mean that fires may still be a threat as late as April. It is not uncommon to experience severe bush fire danger at either end of the October to March statutory Bush Fire Danger Period, and this tends to occur on a cycle of about four years. An extended season lasting up to six months is less frequent and may occur on something like a ten year cycle. The protracted fire season means that the area is exposed to a relatively large number of days when extreme fire conditions prevail.
Extreme fire seasons are determined largely by the incidence of strong, hot, westerly wind blowing from the centre of the continent during drought conditions.
The combination of weather conditions with topography, access, forest type and fuel loads make the South Coast particularly susceptible to severe bush fire seasons. Most of the Eurobodalla Shire has been burnt by high intensity bush fires."
Malua Bay Beach
Updated March 2016