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 Bushfires can be reduced: time to listen up!

20.12.19. At last, some people with authority  are starting to heed the advice, or at least listen to the bushfire expert Roger Underwood in WA, and certainly not that cabal of gullible old crocks led by Greg Mullins and the opportunist Tim Flannery, Julia Gillard’s climate guru who milked the taxpayer of $540,000 for his predictably wrong advice. Not to mention his deep thermal scheme for which he freely used the ABC to promote his personal interest which also ended in failure. Recall also the several de-sal plants he pushed various state governments into purchasing, only one or two now operational at huge standby costs? The above image is the triangle of fire and is in the basic Bushfire Training Manual that every NSWRFS volunteer learns about.
A group of former “fire chiefs” is blaming the current bushfires across Australia on climate change and demanding that Scott Morrison take urgent action to fix the climate.

Source: Roger Underwood for News Corp

Bushfire crisis: Climate wailing ignores fuel build-ups

This, it claims, will fix the bushfire threat. Even if we could change the climate (cooler summers, saturating winter rains, light breezes, no more droughts), it would not influence the current weather patterns or stop the fierce bushfires coming up the driveway this afternoon.
Even if we knew exactly how to change the climate, anything we did in Australia would have to be replicated globally (especially in China and India) to make any difference; and even if global measures were applied tomorrow, the desired new climate might not cut in for many years.
The “climate change is causing bushfires” position has two killer flaws. It takes no account of fuels. And it prescribes no practical actions that will help with the immediate bushfire threat. Ignoring fuel is an error of astonishing magnitude. In Bushfire 101 we learned about the fire triangle. A bushfire can occur only if three things are present: oxygen (in the air), fuel (to burn) and heat (a source of ignition to get the fire started).
If any one of the three is missing, no fire.
Nothing can be done to remove the air and the oxygen it contains. Nothing can be done to stop bushfires starting. They will be lit by lightning strikes or started by humans, deliberately or accidentally.
But bushfire fuel can be removed, or at least the quantity of fuel around a house or in the bush can be reduced to a point where a fire will burn at a relatively low intensity, allowing firefighters to deal with it relatively comfortably.
If fuel is allowed to build up, as happens in long-unburnt eucalypt bushland, the eventual fire will be of high intensity. If a crown fire results, generating a downwind ember storm, the fire will be impossible to control and highly damaging, no matter how many thousands of firefighters and water bombers you throw at it.
Blaming climate change for the current spate of bushfires ignores the fact these bushfires have proven almost impossible to control once they got going. This is because they are burning heavy fuels dried out by drought. Ignoring fuel is the ultimate cop-out. It absolves the authorities of any responsibility for the incubation of this fire epidemic through the years as dangerous levels of fuel were allowed to build up in the nation’s bushlands.
But what of the solutions proposed by the “fire chiefs”? I have yet to see any, other than the usual suggestions to curtail CO2 emissions, shut down coal-fired power stations, no coalmines, switch to electric cars, use trains instead of aircraft, and so on. What will these measures actually achieve? There is no agreement. When will their impact on the climate become significant? There is no agreement on this either, other than vague statements about 2030 or 2040. As far as I can see the “fire chiefs” have offered nothing of any practical or immediate value in terms of bushfire management.
However, I am in full agreement with them on one thing: something must be done to fix the bushfire crisis in Australia.
A good start would be for governments and bureaucrats to acknowledge the three great truths about bushfires in this country. First, Australia is naturally bushfire-prone. This is because of our hot, dry summers, periodic droughts, flammable vegetation and abundant sources of ignition. Second, bushfires cannot be prevented. Third, their severity and damage can be minimised but this requires effective management.
The effective approach is well understood and field-tested. You must harden-up rural and semi-rural communities to increase their resilience in the expectation of fire. You should reduce the fuels in the bush. And you need an efficient firefighting force. It won’t work with only one of the three; you must have them all, properly integrated.
Trouble is, the nation as a whole does not understand or agree on these key points. There is confusion about priorities. Thus we see “fire chiefs” focusing on climate change, environmentalists on protecting biodiversity, the fire services on firefighting, and the aviation industry (backed by the media) pushing for more and bigger water bombers.
Meanwhile, politicians are scrambling to please everyone, and pleasing nobody. The leadership vacuum is devastating.
In my opinion, the intervention from the “fire chiefs” is political, based on the “take action on climate change” agenda rather than the “fix the bushfire crisis now” agenda.
There is nothing the matter with being a climate activist, per se, but advocating policies that distract the authorities from dealing with the immediate bushfire threat can be described only as irresponsible.
Roger Underwood is chairman of the Perth-based Bushfire Front. He has 60 years’ experience in bushfire management.
{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Pensioner Pete 20/12/2019, 7:07 am

    The graphic would make a great sticker for use everywhere, including vehicles, perhaps with a message ‘I Vote’ to get the message over about hazard reduction.

  • DT 20/12/2019, 7:43 am

    Just another lefty stunt planned since before April 2019 when, according to the Greens and Climate Council those former fire chiefs predicted that the next bushfire season would be seriously bad.

    Well so did serving fire fighters who knew why seriously bad was likely, too much fuel for bushfires following too few fuel reduction programmes based on too few permits having been issued for decades.

    In NSW the state government provided increased funding and the federal government assisted resulting in new equipment being purchased including a Boeing 737 water bomber, and a DC10 water bomber contracted for the bushfire season added to the already large NSW aircraft fire fighting fleet.

    The next part of the Climate Council stunt was created based on the news that the PM was taking a family holiday, for one week before Christmas, and what the lefty deceivers did not mention is that the PM has a very busy official government business schedule commencing after Christmas.

    Also not mentioned was that state governments have responsibility for fire fighting, full time fire fighters and volunteers and equipment, like buying the 737 aircraft in anticipation of a seriously bad bushfire season.

    Of course also no mention of seriously bad bushfires spanning back to the first colony established in 1788. And that the Australian Bush is tolerant of fire and relies on fire for regeneration.

    It’s climate change, man made global warming caused by carbo dioxide, an absolute lie.

    In the Australian today scientists (led by Jennifer Marohasy) have challenged the BoM to debate the data that a group of scientists have been auditing privately since they first reported the doctored data that does not match historic record data around 2014. And why BoM records of temperature recordings at their weather stations do not match the actual readings, often adjusted to create the impression of an upwards warming trend by BoM.

    Maybe exposing the BoM involvement in the climate change hoax will be the start of voters scaring the politicians into acting in our best interests?

    • Doug 23/12/2019, 6:13 pm

      Why doesn’t the NSW government use controlled burns to reduce the fuel in the bush, like we do in Western Australia?

      For all my life, the Western Australian government has had prescribed controlled burns during every spring. This policy has saved countless lives and homes.

      In my lifetime, I can’t recall a single runaway fire in Western Australia like this month in NSW or the 2009 Victorian bushfire.

  • john 20/12/2019, 7:45 am

    If these ex fire chiefs had done their jobs when they were in control and reduced the fuel loads we wouldn’t be having these massive fires now

  • TL46 20/12/2019, 7:48 am

    Meanwhile the Qld. Labor Government is going all out to destroy Rural Fire Brigades with back burning regulations and this Blue Card Bull s##t and replace Rural volunteers with paid part time union member fighters.

    • Pensioner Pete 20/12/2019, 8:02 am

      Chuck in the fact TL46, being the Queensland Government’s Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford is also cutting the rural firefighters budget by 25% Refers: https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/6452760/sparks-fly-after-budget-cuts/

      Which seems to me, to be part of the campaign by the Labor/Greens in Queensland to destroy the rural sector.

      • Doug 23/12/2019, 6:15 pm

        Is that punishment for voting for the LNP?

  • Penguinite 20/12/2019, 8:03 am

    Back back-burning or burn-up!

    • Geoff 20/12/2019, 9:33 am

      I would rather back ‘hazard reduction’ burning, during suitable periods.
      Get rid of the fuel load before the fire season.

      • DT 20/12/2019, 11:23 am

        And following this bushfire season is the perfect time to get serious and keep the land under control.

  • PeterW 20/12/2019, 8:09 am

    Its time to hold individuals to account.
    Every permit that was rejected by councils needs to be investigated to whose signature carried that motion.
    Those should be held accountable and if a death has resulted gaoled. Insurance companies need to push this through.
    Only then the public might wake up to how insidious green councils need to be challenged.

  • PeterW 20/12/2019, 8:58 am

    So smokers cannot toss a cig butt out the car window at “certain” times during the year???
    How about understanding smokers do things on impulse, its a habit.
    They’re not going think what time of the year it is. It should be an offence any time.

    • DT 20/12/2019, 11:25 am

      Daily Telegraph today published a picture of fire personnel extinguishing a centre of road nature strip cigarette butt fire on a Sydney suburb road.

  • ibbit 20/12/2019, 10:17 am

    I agree with PeterW’s comment. Would soon make them – politicians of all colours and the lame brained who inhabit the airwaves and various other media behave responsibly, I reckon. Nothing like a severe sting in the hip pocket for them to find they can either be stupid or find some commonsense.
    Have become a bit irritated with John Stanley on 2GB who tends to talk over or give fairly short shrift to anyone who insists one of the major problems with bush fires is the lack of fuel reduction and general maintenance of politician inspired”locked up” areas of bush.
    Those with authority should be held responsible for their actions and made to pay for the losses people have suffered.
    Heard a politician say this morning that the firefighters who died “gave their lives” to help with the fires. Beg to differ – they had their lives taken from them by thoughtless, brain infected ideologues who are too stupid and too arrogant to think things through clearly or listen to those who know better than they do.

  • Pensioner Pete 20/12/2019, 11:55 am

    ibbit: Quoting you: “they had their lives taken from them by thoughtless, brain infected ideologues who are too stupid and too arrogant to think things through clearly or listen to those who know better than they do.”

    You are absolutely spot on.

  • JRT 20/12/2019, 2:14 pm

    I find it ironic that Mullen and his FORMER fire chiefs (pushed by Flannery) only do their spruiking on the ABC! I hear from other commentators ” they have been invited to come on the program to make comment but declined” Now that is how you push a political agenda!

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