Summer Fire Season

At the beginning of each of the fire seasons for 2013/14 through to 2016/17 we said that they had all the hallmarks of being challenging times for brigades, thankfully we were spared that major challenge locally. Across the state however and in particular the 2013/14 year it turn out to be the worst on record. Every year our well trained brigade members have travelled to other areas helping and supporting communities in major fires across NSW and into Victoria.

But in September 2017 we had our own major fire that started on private property near Dunns Creek Rd and quickly travelled east into the Mogo State Forest. From there it quickly grew in size and threaten properties west of Ridge Rd. On several occasions spot fires started from embers being blown well ahead of the main fire. Those fire were eventually brought under control. To understand the dynamics of a large local fire a link is provided to an overview report on the Dunns Crk fire, by our Brigade Captain, and you can see how this fire progressed until it was brought under control. Also, attached is a map of the fire area showing its growth over a 3 day period (note changes and house locations); both are worth contemplating as it relates to our potential dangers.

 

To show that a fire season can be prolonged in April 2018 we had a major fire that started in Reedy Swamp just out of Bega and very quickly reached the Tathra township where it destroyed over 70 houses along with other buildings and property. The fire moved very quickly and  offered little time for fire fighting resources to be brought to bear fully - it shows how very quickly things can change and how super vigilant we all need to be. A formal review of the Tathra Fire has been undertaken and you can see that report by using this link. It is worth a read and offers a lot of value to just what we could confront if the worst came to the worst in our area. ARE YOU READY!!

 

We generally look north to get a feel for what the potential future levels of fire danger are likely to be. Past experience has shown that the north coast of NSW is about six weeks ahead of us while the Sydney area is three to four weeks ahead in exhibited potential risk conditions. This year the 2018 spring summer period has been particularly dry with any rains only making a superficial and short term impact on the potential for catastrophic fires. The experiences of Queensland in late November 2018 and the fires around Newcastle say we will be lucky to not have a large aggressive fire in our region or near region.

 

As a brigade we are always looking at predicting what the future summer conditions will be like. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is one organisation that we are guided by and they provided regular special updates that are worth a close look - you can get more details by going to Climate Outlook

 

 

The potential for the season ahead looks severe as we head into a traditional hot/dry summer and dry autumn. But it is worth noting that the brigade has done extensive hazard reductions in our area. Even then the burns carried out by the brigade exhibited very intense fire impacts that suggest the underlying fuels are highly flammable despite the "cooler and wetter" conditions of November. We can expect periods of elevated fire risk factors in our area to last the season. Local micro conditions vary depending on past local rainfall, prevailing climate conditions and the general vegetation build up in the bush land in the immediate area. We all need to be ready!

 

Be Informed of changing weather and alerts

 

One of the important things you need to do during the fire season is to keep informed of weather conditions, emergency alerts and changing updates as they happen. We offer a cluster of websites that we have called alert watch to assist you to quickly assess the prevailing conditions and their impact on fire potential and intensity. These are sites that will give you up to date information on the fire situation, fire declarations and a quick means to follow developing weather conditions. It is worth becoming familiar with the updates and how they change before the fire season arrives.

If a fire happens near you - do you have a plan?

Bush fires are a natural part of the Australian environment and occur regularly, but many people fail to prepare for them. When threatened by bush fires, people will often leave it too late to make critical decisions and often have few safe options left.

 

The Rural Fire Service's web page has excellent information on things you should consider, things you should do to prepare and also how to respond to a fire situation. You can access this information through this (Link) to their site. Also there are some very good short videos you should watch at this Link that have really useful information. In these links it is suggested that there are three stages in being fire ready and briefly they are:

 

Prepare Campaign Image

You must make important decisions before the fire season starts.

Act Campaign Image

The higher the fire danger rating, the more dangerous conditions.

Act Campaign Image

Fires may threaten without warning so you need to know what you will do to survive.

 

Bush Fire Survival Plan

 

You can access and download a copy of the bush fire survival plan from the above link, this document covers in detail the things you should think about in being ready. Pages 16 and 17 are particularly helpful as they allow you to put your own information in for the situations of "Our Leave Early Plan" and "Our Stay and Defend Plan". This is a must read document to help you be fully prepared.

 

It also gives you very valuable information on things like:

1.      Protect your family, protect your life

2.    Understanding your level of risk

3.    Preparing your plan, yourself and your property

4.    Knowing the danger ratings

5.    Keeping yourself informed

6.    Neighborhood Safer Places

7.    Emergency Survival Kits

8.    Protective clothing

9.    Myth Busters (Commonly misunderstood beliefs); and finally

10.  A section to assist in getting the kids to understand the dangers and issues.

Bush Fire Permits

 

At the beginning of each fire season a "Fire Danger Period" is declared, for the 2018/19 season the declaration is from 1st September 2018 to 31st March 2019. During this period you are required to have a "Fire Permit" to do any burning off at all - even a small pile of material.

The aim of the Fire Permit is to ensure fire will be used safely. A permit imposes conditions on the way a fire is lit and maintained, and can only be issued by authorised Permit Issuing Officers. The permit system informs the authorities exactly when and where landowners intend to burn, to ensure adequate and appropriate measures are in place, so that fires remain under control. You can find more information on the RFS Web Page at the following (Link). The district office can also issue a prohibition on the issuing of permits for part or all of a season.

A Total Fire Ban declaration will override any permits issued and the rules around a total fire ban and its operation can be found through this (Link). You should note the new penalties for failing to comply with these rules.

For information for the Malua Bay Brigade area on when you can burn off and Fire Permits please contact the Brigade Captain Ian Barnes on 0415 774 810.

No Permits to be Issued 

 

 

The Far South Coast District Office of the RFS has issued a directive, effective immediately, to all brigades in its area (and this includes the Malua Bay Brigade area) that no fire permits can be issued until further notice.

 

This directive is made in response to the expected high fire danger for the duration of the summer season.

 

Fire Danger Ratings

The Fire Danger Rating (FDR) gives you an indication of the consequences of a fire, if a fire was to start. The rating is based on predicted conditions such as the temperature, relative humidity, wind and dryness of the landscape. It tells you how a bush fire may act, what impacts there might be on the community if a bush fire were to start and when to implement your Bush Fire Survival Plan.

Click on the picture for today's fire rating in your area.

The Fire Danger Rating (FDR) is an assessment of the potential fire behavior, the difficulty of suppressing a fire, and the potential impact on the community should a bush fire occur on a given day. The FDR is determined by the Fire Danger Index (FDI). The FDI is a combination of air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and drought.
An FDI of 1 (Low-Moderate) means that fire will not burn, or will burn so slowly that it will be easily controlled, whereas an FDI in excess of 100 (Catastrophic) means that fire will burn so fast and so hot that it is uncontrollable.

A good explanation of the FDR, what each means, what the potential fire be ha vi our could be, what the impact potential and what your actions need to be are given in an RFS 2009 publication called "Fire Rating Index" and can be accessed by clicking on the following link Fire Danger Index

Updated December 2018