Grose Valley Fires 2006 – preparation contributed

Grose Valley inside the Blue Mountains National Park  (World Heritage)
before the Parks Service let a fire burn through it out of control
in the Spring of 2006
[Photo by Ian D Smith]


20 Sep 2006:  (2 months prior) Parks Service maximises hazard reduction burns


<<With warmer days just around the corner and continuing dry weather the Blue Mountains Region National Parks and Wildlife Service (Parks Service) is again undertaking rigorous preparation for the coming fire season.

“Every year around this time the Parks Service runs a number of fire preparedness days to ensure staff and fire-fighting equipment are fully prepared for the season ahead”, said Minister for the Environment Mr Bob Debus.

“Fire preparedness days require fire-fighting staff to check their personal protective equipment, inspect fire-fighting pumps and vehicles and ensure that communication equipment and procedures are in place and working before the fire season begins.”

Mr Debus said a number of exercises, including four-wheel drive and tanker driving, first aid scenarios, entrapment and burnovers, were also employed to re-familiarise staff with all apsects of fighting fires.

“Burnovers, where fire-fighters are trapped in a vehicle as fire passes over it, is one of the worst case scenarios a fire fighter can face so pre-season practice is critical to ensure that their response is second nature”, he said.

“Local fire-fighters have also undergone stringent fitness assessments to make sure they are prepared for the physical demands of fire-fighting – like being winched from a helicopter into remote areas with heavy equipment, to work longs hours under very hot and dry conditions wearing considerable  layers of protective clothing”, Mr Debus explained. 

Mr Debus said that fire preparedness and fitness assessment days worked in conjunction with a number of  other initiatives as part of a year-long readiness campaign for the approaching summer.


“Over the past 12 months, NPWS officers have conducted more than 150 hazard reduction burns on national park land across NSW.  Nineteen hazard reduction burns have been conducted in the Blue Mountains region covered more than 4500 hectares.” said Debus.


Setting fire to bushland starts bushfires, strangely enough


[Ed:  These did nothing to prevent the Grose Fires.  In fact it was one of the hazard reduction burns deliberately ignited by the Parks Service with the Hartley Vale Rural Fire Service along Hartley Vale Road that escaped over the Darling Causeway that was the main cause of the Grose Fire]


Hartley Vale Road looking east about 1km west of the village of Hartley Vale.
Observe the right (south side) and the consistent blackened ground and blackened tree bases, clear evidence of ground level hazard reduction /backburning.
Compare this to the left unburnt side.  It was this Hazard Reduction/Backburn on Sunday 12th November 2006 (or thereabouts) that escaped control and incinerated the treetops up slope and which crossed over the Darling Causeway into the Blue Mountains National Park and ultimately down into the Grose Valley on 23rd November 2006.
[Photo by Editor, 20070204, Photo © under  ^Creative Commons]


Mr Debus said that while fire fighting authorities are preparing themselves to be ready as possible for flare ups and major fires, home-owners in fire-prone areas of the Blue Mountains should also be readying themselves for the approaching  season.   [Ed:  Famous last words]

“Now is the time to start cleaning gutters, ember-proof houses and sheds, prepare fire breaks and clear grass and fuel away from structures.” he said.  [Ed:  Such was the least of the bushfire risks when the Parks Service and RFS were actively and recklessly setting fire to bushland].


[Source:  ‘Fire Crews Prepare’, 20060920, Blue Mountains Gazette, print]


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