Rural Fire Service central regional manager Brian Smith. Picture: Zizi Averill
Rural Fire Service central regional manager Brian Smith. Picture: Zizi Averill

‘Don’t get complacent’: Firies on watch despite looming rain

AS CENTRAL Queensland enters a damper fire season than last year’s, rural firies say it is still important to prepare for the unexpected.

Rural Fire Service regional manager Brian Smith said the current climatic shift to La Niña, which meant increased rainfall across much of Australia, should make fires like those in 2019 less likely to occur; but, he said, the potential for damaging storms would be greater.

“La Niña brings more wet weather,” Mr Smith said.

“This fire season, the Bureau [of Meteorology] is predicting potentially a shorter season than the last couple of years, and potentially less severe than the last couple of years.

“We’re expecting in September to October, we could see some significant rain and associated storm activities.”

Before September, fire brigades were conducting Operation Cool Burn, a hazard reduction program preceding the fire season each year, done in consultation with land management agencies and councils.

The Rural Fire Service brigade set fire to scrub in a controlled burn. Picture: Zizi Averill
The Rural Fire Service brigade set fire to scrub in a controlled burn. Picture: Zizi Averill

“Leading into this bushfire season, there have been a number of activities undertaken in the Central Region, especially around Rockhampton,” Mr Smith said.

“They include hazard reduction burning, fire breaks and community education.”

He said QFES had been talking to residents through traditional and social media, recommending that homeowners clean around their properties.

“Don’t get complacent.,” Mr Smith said.

“Be bushfire prepared - no loose items around, no vegetation on the ground, cleaning out gutters.

“It only takes one fire in the wrong spot at the wrong time to have a significant effect on the community.”

Mr Smith said some areas were particularly risky, listing Springsure and western Gladstone, because of low soil moisture.

But he added that despite COVID-19, rural brigades had maintained their training and were ready to help wherever they were needed.

“We’re confident the brigades are fully prepared and they’re also able to switch over to a storm and flood mode,” he said.

“If people do see a fire unattended, triple-0 is their best option.”


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