Readiness boosted following brutal bushfires

Readiness boosted following brutal bushfires

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CHANGES MADE: Bek Rushton and Sam Branson, Stockport, have improved their bushfire preparation in the five years since being burnt out in the Pinery fire.

CHANGES MADE: Bek Rushton and Sam Branson, Stockport, have improved their bushfire preparation in the five years since being burnt out in the Pinery fire.

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Recent anniversaries of the Pinery and Yorketown fires are a pertinent reminder that while fire danger season officially kicked off in the last remaining regions on Tuesday, the threat of ferocious blazes begins much earlier.

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Recent anniversaries of the Pinery and Yorketown fires are a pertinent reminder that while fire danger season officially kicked off in the last remaining regions on Tuesday, the threat of ferocious blazes begins much earlier.

It has been five years since the Pinery fire broke out on November 25, 2015, burning more than 80,000 hectares and claiming two lives, while 12 months have passed since 5000ha burnt across the southern Yorke Peninsula.

Despite the devastation, fire-affected locals in both areas have described the fires as a "wake-up call in the worst of ways", with the blazes having led to an improvement in bushfire consciousness and preparation.

YP Ag Yorketown agronomist and Edithburgh local Troy Johnson said the community had pulled together well in the past year to help get locals back on their feet.

"The fire united us even more tightly - there has been so much done in the past 12 months to get everything back on-track," he said.

"We are a lot more organised - everyone is pretty battle-ready these days, which is a good thing, but with that comes the anxiety and stress that drives that (readiness)."

Mr Johnson said many farmers had upgraded their water tanks and farm firefighting units this year, while Country Fire Service equipment had also been upgraded.

"The airstrip now has an area for water supply for aerial firefighting too, which is a massive help," he said.

We're making sure we're giving our volunteers and workers the tools they need to keep themselves and South Australians safe. - VINCENT TARZIA

Back closer to Pinery, a fire broke out at Templers on Friday afternoon, but good preparedness and response times led to the blaze being contained within two hours, after burning just 281ha. More than 240 firefighters battled the fire.

While the threat of further blazes will remain constant in the coming months, Emergency Services Minister Vincent Tarzia said SA was "well-placed" leading into summer.

"Unfortunately in SA, there is a degree of inevitability in regards to bushfires," he said. "That is why as a government we are doing everything we can to protect lives and properties this bushfire season.

"We're making sure we're giving our volunteers and workers the tools they need to keep themselves and South Australians safe. Thermal imaging cameras, automatic vehicle location in our vehicles, delivering new trucks and better PPE (personal protective equipment), these are the sorts of things we're rolling out."

In addition, the CFS has introduced a new icon and colour scheme for use on the CFS website and AlertSA app, to align with the new Australian Warning System, which is set to be adopted across the country for bushfire and emergency alerts.

Among other changes, the new symbology will be yellow for Advice messages (instead of blue, as had previously been the case), orange for Watch and Act, and red for Emergency Warning messages.

BRANSONS IMPROVE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

After the 2015 Pinery fire burnt out the Bransons' 800-hectare property at Stockport, the family has made a number of changes in order to mitigate the effect of any future blazes that come their way.

Sam Branson, who farms with father Mark, said the fire had reminded local farmers "just how bad things could get if something goes wrong".

"We're all a bit more fire-conscious in this area now - I live on top of the hill, and have a pretty good view of the surrounds, and all my neighbours are pretty hot on calling me on fire danger days, in case I can see something further out," Sam said.

The Bransons have significantly improved their water resources in the past five years, having installed a new water tank, and invested in an extra farm firefighting unit. They also have two intermediate bulk containers, which are always filled with water and at the ready, as is a 4000-litre water trailer.

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"We used to use that trailer to cart water for stock, but we weren't utilising it (for firefighting), but now it's up to scratch and sitting on-hand if we need it," he said.

In addition, Sam has filled the boomspray with water, creates buffer zones at the edges of paddocks - either by cutting hay or creating a chemical barrier - and moves harvesting machinery into the shed or onto bare ground when pausing harvest on high fire danger days.

"Most of my neighbours, if they're close enough to home, do the same thing," he said.

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