It’s a part of life in Australia. We all need to learn to live with it and be prepared for it.
Here in Tasmania we might feel like bushfires aren’t a big issue, but January 2013 reminded us that they are.
Are you bushfire prepared?
Know your bushfire risk and make a plan
Living in or near the bush or in rural areas provides lots of benefits, but there are also risks, including bushfires. It is important that you are aware of your bushfire risk and that you plan and manage for it, year round. The TFS Bushfire Survival Plan booklet is a useful resource to help you make a plan.
Community Protection Plans – does your community have one?
Community Protection Plans are simple documents to help bushfire-prone Tasmanian communities understand their options during times of bushfire threat. These plans are progressively being developed by TFS in consultation with identified communities. The plans include information about locations of nearby safer places and exit routes, the names of local emergency broadcasters and general bushfire safety information.
Does your community have a plan? Check out the TFS website for the current list of plans. Check this site regularly as new plans are being added all the time. If your community has a plan, become familiar with it and tell your household and neighbours.
TFS Community Protection Planning can be contacted on 1800 000 699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Nearby safer places
Nearby safer places are places of last resort. They are better options than trying to out-run a fire in a car or on foot. Nearby safer places may include locations such as a large ploughed or open paddock, a sports oval, a river or a dam. They should be used when you get ‘caught out’ by the approaching bushfire and you need to get out of the way of the fire front to save your life. However the safest option is always to leave early when a bushfire threatens your home.
Where is your nearby safer place?
Latest News and Events
State Fire Mangement Council - is an independent body that has the responsibility of providing advice to the Minister and the State Fire Commission about the management of vegetation fire across Tasmania, particularly in the areas of prevention and mitigation of fires. See their website.
The SFMC recently launched the Fuel Reduction Program for Tasmania.
The Fuel Reduction Unit of the Tasmania Fire Service will work in cooperation with the Parks and Wildlife Service, Forestry Tasmania, local councils and private land owners to oversee the Fuel Reduction Program. Read about it here.
The current Burn Schedule is available on the TFS website.
Legal information about smoke: EDO Tasmania’s Environmental Law Handbook
Health information: the Department of Health and Human Services website
A fire permit period is in place for the whole of Tasmania.
For more information about what you can and can’t do, see the Declaration Notice.
The Tasmania Fire Service is continuing its community forums and workshops throughout the State.
Keep up to date with all events on the Tasmania Fire Service website.
And read the latest edition of the TFS Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods Newsletter (March 2015)
Nature Conservation Council Bushfire Conference - ‘Fire and Restoration: working with fire for healthy lands’ . Sydney, 26-27 May.
October was Bushfire Awareness Month.
See the ABC web page for some fire-related articles
The Tasmanian Government’s official emergency website, with up-to-date information from emergency services and government agencies. See it here.
Farming Communities and the TFS – Working Together to Reduce Bushfire Risk. Provides information about fire safety on farms, safe harvesting practices during hot and dry weather and safe cooperative working practices for farmers and TFS. See it here.
Be Prepared – Climate Change and the Victorian Bushfire Threat.
A report from the Climate Council of Australia. Download here.
See the TFS website for more fire safety publications.
What about your keepsakes?
Research commissioned by the Australian Red Cross shows 44 per cent of people surveyed hadn’t identified precious, irreplaceable items and had no plans to protect them in the face of a natural disaster.
Read the story from ABC Bush Telegraph.
Does your Landcare Group have a bushfire plan?
How does your Group manage fire risk? Chances are you have never thought about this question. Why not start the conversation about developing a fire plan next time you meet?
Peter Middleton, the TFS Community Development Officer may be able to assist your group with this. Contact Peter on 1800 000 699 or email Peter.Middleton@fire.tas.gov.au
Is your garden fire smart?
During a bushfire, the type, amount and arrangement of plants around your house will influence the fire’s behaviour. Choosing plants that have fire-resisting characteristics will help protect your home.
Find out more about fire resisting garden plants and flammability ratings for different plants in the TFS brochure Fire Resisting Garden Plants.
The reality of bushfires
For a very personal glimpse of what being in the midst of a bushfire is actually like, take a look at the multimedia article ‘Firestorm’ produced by The Guardian
‘Firestorm’ tells the story of the Holmes family experience of the Dunalley bushfire. Tammy Holmes and her five grandchildren sheltered in the water under a jetty during this devastating bushfire in January 2013. The photo of the family huddled under the jetty has become an iconic image, around the world.
After a bushfire
Download the TFS resource After the Fire for advice on what to do during the hours and days immediately after the fire strike.
Then comes the slow process of rebuilding and regenerating. This is a huge task on many fronts but there is support available, try these useful links:
- For information on fire recovery, health and much more see the Bushfire Recovery Taskforce
- For information on assistance for farmers see the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association
- For information on all sorts of fire-related contacts and resources see Tassie Fires – We Can Help
- For information on environmental recovery and landcare support see Landcare Tasmania’s Bushfire Recovery page
The relationship between fire and the Australian environment is complex. Many of our native plants and animals need fire in order to survive and flourish. Other plants have a very low tolerance to fire and are severely impacted when burned. Fire can create a mosaic of different aged vegetation communities that in turn suit different animal species. However, fires that occur too often (before fertile seeds are produced) or too infrequently (allowing plants to age and die out) can lead to the loss of native plant and animal species.
You can explore the behaviour, effects and responses of plant species and communities to fire, in various articles in our Reading Room (scroll down to the On Fire section).
Blaze Aid is a national volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods. Working alongside disaster effected communities, BlazeAid volunteers help to rebuild fences that have been damaged or destroyed. Read more.
Weed Aid is a local community-led project which formed in response to the January 2013 bushfires to support priority post-fire weed management in Southern Tasmania. Read more.
PlantAid formed in 2013 as a pop-up community project, following the January bushfires. With volunteer growers, Plant Aid has helped to restore and regenerate landscapes and gardens in Tasmania’s fire-affected areas. Read more.
Read more about about Bushfire Recovery here.
Wildfires can be particularly intense when fuel hazard levels are high. Recent catastrophic wildfires have placed a spotlight on fire management and increased pressure on public and private land managers to manage fuel hazards.
Many ecosystems benefit from fire, and the lack of planned burning over several decades means that some natural areas are lacking the mosaic of mature and regenerating vegetation that makes for healthy ecosystems and landscapes. Some landholders in Tasmania undertake planned burning, though many lack the skills and knowledge, and others are deterred by liability concerns and lack of resources.
The Planned Burning Pilot Project
The Planned Burning Pilot Project resourced the up-skilling of private landholders to enable them to undertake planned burning of native vegetation, for a range of reasons including ecological benefits, fuel management and weed management. The project brought together farmers, public agencies and technical experts to identify barriers to planned burning, and develop and test resources to assist landholders.
Delivered by Macquarie Franklin with technical support from Dr Jon Marsden-Smedley, the project was directed by a Technical Group with representatives from Tasmanian Fire Service, Forestry Tasmania, TFGA, Parks and Wildlife Service and DPIPWE. Funding was provided by NRM North. The project team worked with two farmer groups (from the northern midlands and the north east).
Download information on specific burns undertaken as part of the project:
- Download the Planned Burning Manual
- Download the Risk Assessment Template
- Download the Post-burn Monitoring Template
Before beginning any planned burning including fuel reduction burns, please register your fire to avoid unnecessary alarms. Call 1800 000 699.
If you are planning to undertake a fuel reduction burn the TFS brochure ‘Using fire outdoors’ has useful information about permits, Total Fire Bans, how to register a fire, how TFS could be involved and more.
…Or visit the TFS website.
Tasman Landcare Group
The Tasman Landcare Group (TLG) has been supporting Landcare activities in the Tasman Catchment for over 16 years. In January 2013, bushfires devastated the properties and projects of many group members.
Tom Dunbabin (Treasurer of the Tasman Landcare Group (TLG) and Dunalley farmer) and Jen Milne (Project Officer TLG) presented at the 2013 Tasmanian Landcare Conference. See their presentation, including images and reflections on how the January 2013 fire impacted farmers and landcarers.
Caring for fire-affected wildlife
Following both the Tasman Peninsula and Molesworth bushfires, trained volunteers with Wildcare Southern Wildlife Rescue and Care (WSWRC) established bases to provide care for fire-affected wildlife. It was a very busy time treating injured wildlife (or sadly euthanasing animals that were too badly hurt), setting up and replenishing food and water stations around the affected area, searching for injured animals, responding to rescue callouts and providing information.
Get savvy on Bushfire Weather with the Bureau of Meteorology’s Bushfire Weather page.
Read up on Bushfire research on the Bushfire CRC website.
Find heaps of resources on bushfire related ecology, land management and much more in the Landcare Tas Reading Room, scroll down to ‘On Fire’.
Resources to help people better prepare, respond to and recover from emergencies – from the Red Cross.
Weather the Storm – a free kit to support women to prepare for disasters and emergencies. Published by the National Rural Women’s Coalition.