Firies: check your safety plan, it will be a dangerous year
RURAL firefighters are determined to avoid loss of life and property in this year's fire season, but fear the El Nino weather cycle could bring intense fire conditions.
Hinterland firefighters have issued an urgent plea for residents to adopt a bushfire survival plan now and use the winter period to get organised and prepare their property for fire.
Montville Rural Fire Brigade senior firefighter Ray Franklin said now was the time for residents to make their home and grounds safe.
"Every firie knows that this year has the potential to be a very bad year," he said.
"Up in the hinterland, where my brigade is, we have very heavy fuel loads around the place."
He said the hinterland community had been lucky over the past few years, because rain had come in summer at the height of bushfire danger season. Unfortunately, this also meant a lot of combustible wood, tall grass and other debris was still ready to burn, he said.
"There is a very heavy fuel load across the hinterland because the last four years ... there's been a lot of rain just when we've needed it."
"According to the weather forecasts, they tell us that we're going to get far less rain this fire season," he said. Mr Franklin said the community should not be alarmed, but should take the time available over winter to prepare a foolproof plan for their safety and that of their loved ones.
"Everybody who is familiar with the bush knows this is the time of year you have the opportunity to make your home and grounds safe," he said. "It's unfortunately the time of year people are doing other things and keeping out of the rain."
He said firefighters had the job of protecting lives and also tried to protect property, but they needed the community's help.
"We do hazard reduction burns every opportunity we get, but that's really niggling at the edges to a large extent," he said.
Montville Rural Fire Service first officer and Caloundra area training officer Mark Roderick said residents needed to decide now whether they intended to stay or go in the event of a fire, and should make detailed preparations for either scenario, including a contingency plan.
He said a practical plan for surviving a bushfire needed to include everything from making sure you had a radio and batteries so you could hear emergency warnings on ABC to putting important personal details such as insurance policy numbers and medication aside.
"It could be a storm in a teacup or it could be a lot worse than that, but you've just to be prepared," he said.
"Sometimes people can be complacent and think, 'It's not going to happen to me'. But unfortunately that's often when it happens to you."
- Prepare your own bushfire survival plan at ruralfire.qld.gov.au.
- Make a backup plan
- Clear your property (including gutters) of leaf litter and other matter that acts as fuel.
- Senior citizens can access practical tips at emergency.qld.gov.au or by phoning 1300 369 003.