'Remote fire fighting force needed'
The Independent Bushfire Group congratulates the Senate committee for its commitment to investigate fast attack strategies, after the release of its October 7 interim report, Lessons to be learned in relation to the Australian bushfire season 2019-20.
Some remote lightning fires that later became disasters could have been put out shortly after ignition with a strong force of specialised helicopters, bombers and remote area fire crews, dedicated only to extinguishing these remote area ignitions.
Supported by the best lightning strike detection technologies, these teams could act quickly while there were only one or two trees alight.
Changes in decision-making and investment in specialised firefighting can ensure more lightning fires are put out early, thus reducing costs and impacts on communities and bushland.
It is clear that we are in uncharted territory for future fire seasons, and we need radical changes in the way we understand and fight fires in the era of climate change.
The Independent Bushfire Group, which includes 13 fire management veterans and researchers with more than 450 years of fire experience between them, has analysed 11 fires from the last catastrophic season.
Future severe fires seasons will be closer together and more extreme. Practices that were developed in the past now need radical rethinking.
We strongly support the approach being taken by the committee to a whole of community fire mitigation effort and the shift in emphasis of prescribed burning closer to communities.
Retired Far South Coast fire manager and Independent Bushfire Group member
Support for firefighter families
As we head into another bushfire season, our attention must turn to the first responders and their families who are still recovering from the efforts of the Black Summer fires.
This week, Fortem Australia launches a free, psychological support service for first responders and - importantly - their family members, who were involved in the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20.
The telehealth service means that access is available for first responder families in the various regional areas that were affected.
Beyond Blue research shows that more than half of first responders have experienced a traumatic event that has deeply affected them during the course of their duties. Families also carry this trauma.
We are an independent not-for-profit, not part of any workplaces or first responder organisations, supporting families as well as first responders.
Fortem Australia is created by the co-founders of Soldier On.
Loss of ABC and SBS transmission
I'm utterly dismayed at the news that the government would allow regional Australia to lose our national broadcaster and the SBS. Clearly this will be another step towards the destruction of open accurate and fair information and communication. After all certain members of our current government who repeatedly tarnish the ABC with left-wing bias when their decisions are questioned, would gladly see it go. If we lose both the ABC and SBS, the heartbreak of 2020 would not only be bushfires and COVID-19.