Fairer Conditions Spell Good News For Firefighters

Across the state over twenty five fires are still burning but
that number is falling and is far down from the more than seventy
that have blazed in remote areas over the past two months.

Around two hundred and fifty fire-fighters from interstate have arrived,
over the past several weeks and have set up at a specially assigned base camp
near Stanley in the state’s north-west.
The Tasmania Fire Service say this has been the biggest mobilisation of interstate fire-fighters ever in Tasmania.

TFS chief officer Gavin Freeman said that shift to favourable weather conditions
should mean more fire-fighters will be able douse the blaze’s edge
rather than meerly hold containment lines and thus start to push back against the bulk of the fires.

“We’re now able, because the fire conditions have abated, to get closer in
to where the fire edge actually is with tanker crews to extinguish
the fire directly without taking large tracts of land out,” he said.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, a lot of mopping up to do.”

He also stated that the next few days should be vital in aiding crews before the weather warms up, later in the week.

“We’re pretty confident that we’ve got some solid lines
around these fires, but we’re at the hands of the weather,” he said.

“There still could be the possibility of unpredicted wind changes or unpredicted strong winds that these fires could escape.”

Mr Freeman said he expected the interstate crews should remain at the Stanley home base for the next fortnight,
to bolster the line of Tasmanian crews working at the borders of a blaze covering more than 60,000 hectares.

“We have some plans in place to continue that on through March if need be, but I don’t anticipate that will be the case,” Mr Freeman said.

For more information, please visit: www.fire.tas.gov.au

Fires Rage Across Tasmania

Difficult to control bush fires are still raging across Tasmania with several communities at risk from falling embers and thick smoke.

What had started as several small fires have over the course of several weeks been pushed forward by strong winds, adding to the challenges faced by firefighter teams.

The state’s first ever four day total fire ban has been issued today, as currently more than fifty fires burn across the state and authorities are attempting to cut down any additional risks.
TFS chief officer, Gavin Freeman, today urged people to practice caution and good sense.

“We know it’s a long weekend and we know there will be people camping, but just gas fired cookers, they’re ok as long as the area around them is cleared, but no open fires please,” he said.

While many are being maintained and monitored across remote parts of the state, twelve are currently (at time of posting) burning close to communities and are at the “advice” alert level. No immediate threat is faced by these communities but they are advised to practice caution and remain ready for more news.

Two larger blazes however have recently been upgraded to the “watch and act” alert level, with firefighters issuing several advisements to residents in and around the areas of Nunamara on the Tasman Highway, with the between Bourkes Road and Binghams Road most affected.

All residents are advised to:
-Be on the lookout for falling embers, being scattered by strong winds.
-Be mindful of the danger of thick smoke.
-Take action to ensure your house and family are safe.
-If the premises is too unprepared, be prepared to leave, quickly.
-If you have a bushfire survival plan, use it now.

Firefighters have also issued a warning to anyone who doesn’t live in or near the Nunamara area to stay away and if travelling, find an alternate route.

A “watch and act” alert is also in affect for the Mawbanna area, with the blaze located next to Pipeline road.

The warnings issued to residents near this area include the same warnings as above but also include:

-Keep up to date on details of the situation by listening to ABC local radio or visiting    www.fire.tas.gov.au for updated alerts.
-Residents are also advised to report any fire activity they believe fire services are not currently be aware of, specifically fresh sparks/embers.

-Drivers in the region are also advised to drive with their headlights on no matter the time of day, when driving through smoke, to avoid accident.

Across the state, the effects of the numerous ongoing blazes are being felt in a very real way with a blanket of thick white smoke covering much of the state, moving across towns and even reaching the cities. Visibility ranges from hazy to very obscuring with many drivers across the state using their headlights to avoid risk of accident.

While temperatures have dropped slightly across the state this week, lack of significant rainfall and strong winds have meant that Tasmanian fire crews have been stretched thin, maintaining such a large number of blazes.

With more than forty two thousand hectares burnt in the past ten days, the decision was made to call in reinforcements from interstate, to alleviate some of the stress on Tasmanian fire crews and help regain control. More than one hundred remote area fire fighters are being flown in from New South Wales and will be joined by more than thirty support personnel.

Emergency Management Minister Rene Hidding said that this reinforcement boost combined with expected cooler weather approaching next week is a welcome wave of good news.

“With interstate back-up to arrive tomorrow and more favourable weather conditions forecast, I am advised that substantial progress can be made by early to mid next week,” he said.
For any details or queries about the current fire situation near you,

please visit www.fire.tas.gov.au

Rising temperatures bring fire dangers

A fire in Geeveston has been downgraded after Thursday’s high alert, having been contained by the Tasmania Fire Service through the use of tankers and a helicopter.  A total fire ban was declared across the southern Tasmania as temperatures surged. Hobart saw temperatures reach 30°. The municipalities of Brighton, Derwent Valley, Hobart, Sorell, Central Highlands, Glamorgan Spring Bay, Huon Valley, Southern Midlands, Clarence, Glenorchy, Kingborough and Tasman were all placed on fire bans.

The Tasmanian Fire Service has been preparing for a dangerous season. Standard rules for fire bans are in place so no fires may be lit or allowed to remain alight in open air. No spark generating tools or tools that use a naked flame such as welding or grinding tools may be used in open air. Wood, charcoal or other solid fuel barbecues may not be used either. Public gas and electric barbecues are not banned as long as the barbecue is a fixed permanent structure.

For further details and alerts visit www.fire.tas.gov.au

Jakob Barrett

Interview with a Volunteer Firefighter

Earlier this week, I had the chance to interview Liam Aulich, a young Tasmanian volunteer firefighter from the Turner’s Beach Brigade.

liam

  1. What is a volunteer firefighter?

It is a firefighter who gives up their own free time to help keep their community safe from fires.

  1. What types of duties do you have as a volunteer firefighter?

Making sure the community is aware of the dangers of fire, being alert and ready for when a vegetation fire, structure fire or a motor vehicle accident occurs and sometimes getting involved in community fundraisers.

  1. Why did you join the fire brigade?

I became a firefighter because there were not many people in my local brigade. I thought that it would be a good idea to join and help out.

  1. How does one become a volunteer firefighter?

The best way to join is to go to your local brigade and ask. They will give you all the information you will need to be able to join.

  1. Do you have any recommendations or tips for anyone considering volunteering?

If you feel you can help your community then join up. The volunteer firefighters need all the people they can get coming up to summer. Good fitness is very helpful.

Geron Lee