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The Forum > Article Comments > Warnings about bushfire warnings > Comments

Warnings about bushfire warnings : Comments

By Roger Underwood, published 15/1/2010

To rely on a government warning system during bushfires is to rely on something that is inherently unreliable.

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Roger Underwood was the 2008 Institute of Foresters of Australia N.W. Jolly Medal winner. This was awarded for his services to forestry in Australia that has continued in his retirement from CALM.
Roger is also the President of 'The Bushfire Front Inc' an NGO that concentrates on practical (as opposed to Academic) forestry issues.
For those who are worried about "cool" burning (described in WA as 'green burning') there is an excellent article on the The Bushfire Front website. http://bushfirefront.com.au/opinion/occasional-papers.
The cost of cool burning is about $50 / ha. Victoria's super fires have cost the State around $450 per ha. This is to fight the fire, then compensate affected people & replace infrastructure. The cost of the loss of habitat through erosion cannot be quantified.
Trying to suppress fires is an expensive waste of taxes when fire prevention measures cost, comparatively, little.
Fire prevention measures preserve native flora and fauna habitat. Re colonization is usually very quick.
Posted by phoenix94, Friday, 15 January 2010 9:52:50 AM
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Rodger,
Agree completely, especially:- "The fundamental message that our governments should be putting out is this: if you live in, or close to the Australian bush, you should expect to get a bushfire on a hot windy day in summer and be prepared for it. To rely on a government warning system is to rely on something that is inherently unreliable".

A couple of other points you did not mention, but are related.

One. If road conjestion occurs due to warnings there is a danger that an accident or road blockage could lead to the deaths of many in cars due to burning fuel at roadsides. The occupants of the cars would be trapped.

Two. Evacuation seems to be the popular catch cry. This will inevatially lead to more houses being burnt as most houses catch fire from wind blown embers which can easily be extinguished if an able bodied person is present. This will also lead to much higher insurance premiums for all home insurers. A better approach is to make your home your fire refuge and stay there. There is ample information on this subject.

The problem in recent times has been 'green' councils which have ordinances preventing tree and shrub removal.
Posted by Banjo, Friday, 15 January 2010 10:24:42 AM
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A sensible article.

What it all boils down to is personal responsibility.If you live in a fire prone area then preparation of your home and surroundings to be as resistant to fire as possible should be mandatory.Every house must have a fire shelter.If this is done it is much safer to stay on site than to move.

Any person conscious of their environment should not need SMS fire warnings.Radio and the Net provide lots of timely information and just being fully aware of weather conditions is just as important.
Posted by Manorina, Saturday, 16 January 2010 8:29:52 AM
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I agree with with Banjo and Manorina that it is the responsibility of home owners to ensure that their houses are as safe as possible, and for councils not only to let them, but to assist them by removing fuel near them.

Unfortunately the gov has after last year's fire over reacted, and while their intentions are good, there is a real danger that after evacuating numerous times for false warnings, that citizens will simply believe that officials are crying wolf, with the real warning being ignored later.
Posted by Shadow Minister, Sunday, 17 January 2010 9:39:09 AM
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