Hans Lovejoy, editor
For the North Coast, fire season kicked off early on September 1, and if you are a rural dweller, it’s worth considering what fire plan you have.
Joining the local brigade is a good way to get familiar with how to manage fire dangers, and can improve team and leadership skills. All info is available at NSW RFS (Rural Fire Service).
The long awaited Bushfire Inquiry, released last week by the Liberal-Nationals NSW government, contains recommendations to improve and streamline its future responses.
It’s available online here.
One take home from the report was that numnut politicians and their media cheerleaders were – gasp – wrong about how the fires started. Liberal Senator, Eric Abetz, and Nationals MP, George Christensen, for example, bleated on that last season’s disaster was, in part, a result of arson. The Bushfire Inquiry found no fire had been started by arson. Such terrible actors will say anything to distract the public from the effects of climate change.
Anyway, the report presents around 11 specific suggestions for rural/regional high fire risk Shires such as Byron.
One of the most important recommendations for this Shire is number 28. In association with the insurance sector, the Inquiry suggests creating ‘a model framework and statutory basis for the establishment of an enforcement, compliance and education program which adopts a risk-based approach to routine inspection of local bushfire prone developments’.
This would ‘ensure that every local development on bushfire prone land is prepared for future bushfire seasons in accordance with bushfire protection standards of the day, that account for worsening conditions.’
Other suggestions to improve government fire preparedness and response include re-committing ‘to the current, regionally based approach to planning and co-ordinating hazard reduction’.
In other words, re-fund this essential service which the Liberal-Nationals happily defunded. They were never held accountable for that. Look over there – it’s a non existent arsonist!
A new NSW Bushfire Policy should be developed, says the Inquiry, similar to the NSW Flood Prone Land Policy.
This would ‘accommodate changing climate conditions and the increasing likelihood of catastrophic bush fire conditions’.
The Inquiry’s executive summary said of climate change that ‘increased greenhouse gas emissions clearly played a role in the conditions that led up to the fires and in the unrelenting conditions that supported the fires to spread, but climate change does not explain everything that happened’.
It’s a lot to take on for local government, especially with a council as small and under-resourced as Byron. That’s why the NSW government needs to kick in funds, as the Inquiry suggests.
This stuff is literally about life and death. Here’s hoping the 2020/21 fire season is without major incident.