1. #1
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    Post NSW Aust bushfires Xmas 2001

    Well the've done it again up North of Victoria. Lost 160+ homes in a range of bushfires in the last few days in NSW and ACT. You get 2 bites of the cherry ie get residents to clean up well
    before the fire or when fires break out throw a **** load of resources at it and knock it over. NSW has done neither as usual. Well done commissioner Kopperburg and NSW Parks. Pity the poor residents who have lost there homes. - and yes the resources do exist its just a matter of spending the money to get them there when they are needed.

    Does anyone know where the Erickson Sky Crane is? They say its here in Vic but I ain't seen it yet. This the type of equipment that is needed in NSW along with trucks and manpower.

    For the Kiwi the 60 CFA (Vic) trucks 25 SFS (SA) trucks 20 odd Vic Parks pigs (and some banana benders) could have been despatched and arrived alot earlier if they had been called for. In 1994 the CFA supplied 120 trucks and crew. It could do it again as it has a fleet of 2000.

    My intention is not to pick on the fire fighters at the front but to hold the politicians responsible for a situation that is damaging the already terrible Australian economy.

    I am cleaning up my place at the moment.
    The 2 areas are remove as much fuel as possible from around the property to reduce the amount of heat produced. ie cut grass, trim trees.
    The second thing is to reduce ember attack by removing possible points of ignition immediately around the home and sheds.

    A class foam is great as it reduces the amount of water used which when you only have 2000 or 3000 ltrs of water on the truck and makes you alot more effective. Also reduces reignition of burnt vegetation ie tree stumps.

    [ 12-27-2001: Message edited by: Wombat ]

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  2. #2
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    Sounds like what you say is right on the money Wombat, but for us Kiwis (and anyone else who is interested) can you expand in more detail on what could or should have been done particularly before the fires? I know your gum trees and weather create a ferocious mix when they get started. I have heard mention of a foam that can be sprayed over houses that helps to insulate them from the effects of fire and wonder if anyone can give me more information on that too. Respects from this City boy to all those who do the uncomfortable and dangerous work of wildland firefighting.

    Jim Maclean
    Auckland NZ

  3. #3
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    NSW response is only one issue in the whole management of their wildfires.
    In Victoria, we have a pretty good proactive campaign in educating the public about wildfire, unfortunately NSW do not.
    We also do not evacuate areas, we let the residents 'protect in place' if they are prepared.

    The foam is known as 'Class A' foam. It is pretty good, though the environmental impacts can be worse than the fire. Just need to be careful where and when it is used.

  4. #4
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    Thumbs down

    Oh how easy it is to criticize from the comfort of your computer chair.

  5. #5
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    Nathan,

    I agree it is easy to criticize. Some of the problems with the "management" of wildfires for NSW are the same as in 1994. Public education is the key, no amount of fire suppression resources will beat preparation & strategic fuel reduction.

    Beleive me, I'm not saying we have got it perfect.

    It is interesting to note, NSW fire services in the past have always promoted evacuation. And they can legally do it. Last night the Commisioner said to stay and fight if you prepare.
    In Victoria, residents cannot legally be forced to leave, and CFA promotes to prepare and save your own house.

    What do other fire services promote, evac or stay & fight ?

  6. #6
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    Thumbs down

    Mate,

    as far as I'm concerned unless you're in a truck on the way here you can go & get well & truly ......

    Please, such mind of eminent brilliance please describe the difference between Ash Wednesday & now? Oh that's right - we haven't had any fatalities!! I must say I am going to very interested in reading the Linton Coronial findings when they are released on the 11th. And just how quickly do you expect it to take to get a CFA task force for Sydney together? Now make that Xmas. How long do you expect a fire to travel 100km in 70kph winds with 10% humidity? Let me tell you - 6 hours. NSW RFS budget is $110m, there has been extensive public education at the Easter Show, regional shows with "Big Ed" a pantech, Councils put in development controls in bushfire danger areas. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Hazard reduction has been at it's highest & that's after the restricted season we had last year thanks to the Olympics, & that's with the rain that has stuffed many an opportunity. And as for air assets, I guess 47 fixed & rotary aircraft aren't enough? Oh and that includes the the Skycrane (which is why you haven't seen it - d'uh!). Just because it's not on the tv don't think it's not here. Perhaps you should turn it off & jump on a bus & come do some real work.

    OB

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    I need some help. I am frustrated beyond all imagination-seeing homes burn unnecessarily. I am professional firefighter in the US and I also work for Barricade International, (www.barricadegel.com). Barricade is a gel that when applied to a structure will keep it from burning. Barricade has saved many homes in the USA. I have been attempting to contact the appropriate authorities in Australia to send a shipment of Barricade Gel to help save some homes. I have had no success making the proper contacts. Can anyone help? If you have any ideas, please email me at evanb1998@yahoo.com or post the info in this forum.

    Thanks.

    Evan

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the info Wombat. Class A foam I know about but the foam I was wondering about was something different. If I remember right it evolved from disposable nappies (of all things) and makes a shampoo-like cover that can be sprayed on houses-at-risk relatively easily and cheaply through a garden hose applicator. Only ever saw a snippet on TV about it so maybe it never lived up to its own hype. Still interested in any info that anyone can come up with on it.
    Good luck to the Aussies from here,
    Keep safe

  9. #9
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    Jim

    I should have read all the messages before I did my first post and therefore would have been able to respond more appropriately the first time.

    Barricade Gel is the stuff that John Bartlett invented when he discovered that a bunch of
    diapers survived unscathed from a trash fire he was extinguishing. Basically the gel is a
    thick layer of sticky water that can be applied many hours prior to the fires arrival. It
    will last for many days if it is rehydrated. When the fire threat has passed, it is simply
    washed off and safely washes into the soil. It is applied through an eductor at the nozzle.
    It cannot be batch mixed or sent through a fire hose. It is also sold to homeowners with a
    garden hose attachment. Los Angeles Fire Department in California is the largest fire
    department that is carrying Barricade. This product works, period.

    What I would ultimately like to do is get approval from the appropriate people and fly a
    team of four experienced firefighters and a large shipment of gel to Australia immediately
    and quickly train enough firefighters to save as many homes and business as possible.

    If anyone can tell me whom to contact, please email me at evanb1998@yahoo.com.

    Thank you and good luck.

    Evan

  10. #10
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    Yes Nathan I am in my computer chair with the air conditioning on. IT is a warm day and as most of the local trucks are up North I am keeping the pager handy in case I am needed.

    Shager - Ash Wednesday was just that. Upper Beaconsfield had the most fatalities for that day.
    ie over 30 it also had 140 trucks in attendance when the wind change struck. Resources were not the problem - they were there - I was to. The next day had its problems but the majority of losses occurred on the Wednesday particually the Fifteen minutes of the wind change. This was almost 20 years ago and hopefully we have improved since then. Yes we cannot be every where but if we know resources are going to be a problem the next day an overnight run from interstate is possible, After all we should all be able to assemble and deliver resources at short notice. Linton is already dealt with fairly well on the CFA site. Trucks should not operate on their own but as a team. The need for multi- agencies working together is now more important than ever and hopefully the bugs were ironed out in 1994.

    PS Might yet get a leave pass from the wife to come up to NSW next week and get to bring the trucks back.

    Looks like no run to NSW - 2 of the younger officers are going - better idea than sending an old fart like myself. The Erikson air crane is not just another helicopter. If you are working near it take care. The prop wash is like a mini tornado flicking up loose roofing iron pool furniture and the like. It can dump 20 tonne of water in one hit to take out the head of a fire so don't get under it. Pity Erickson don't put up a list of safety protocols on this site when dealing with this monster.

    [ 12-30-2001: Message edited by: Wombat ]

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  11. #11
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    Wombat,

    if you're coming up bring some of that rain with you as there's none forecast by the Bureau for the next week......

  12. #12
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    Shagger,

    Please don't get me wrong, I'm not 'Bagging' NSW nor am I saying we have it right, far from it.

    My parents live in Nth NSW, and have so for nearly two years. They have not seen much, if ANY wildfire education. Syndey may be different, (My father has spent 30 Years in the Fire Service)

    I appologise for GENERALISING, this lack of education could well be just an isolated area.

    The Linton findings will be very intersting, and I'm sure we will get a deserved 'caining'.

    I'm more than happy to lend a hand, and half the chance, I'll be there.

    Hope you get some rain soon....


    PS The Skycrane hasn't been seen, because it was not due to come online until 1st Jan.

  13. #13
    John_Ford
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    . Pity Erickson don't put up a list of safety protocols on this site when dealing with this monster.


    Don't stand under it?

  14. #14
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    Sorry John should have explaned better but what should firefighters do when working with the air crane. What are regarded as safe distances? How are these type of resources managed in the states? What do you do if dumped on by it? I know if you here a siren you are supposed to clear the area. Most of the aircraft used in Australia are much smaller and less efective. By the way I've only worked once with it - me being on a tanker etc and it is a brilliant piece of gear.
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  15. #15
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    As I was a part of a us team of firefighters that was going down under last time they had a big fire season. We had everything planned out and was ready to go down only to have the weather turn on us.

    Not speaking for the group of 40 guys mostly hotshots, and smoke jumpers. But I think that most of the guys would be willing to go down to have some fun with some fire now, most of our seasons dont start until late April. Only thing we need again is a place to sleep, and a place to eat. And we would not require any pay but some cold beer would be nice.

    For the people asking about working with the air crane, they should give you some training on working with them, yes if you are under them when they are above you, grab your a** your going to go for a roll and watch for rocks and trees that get loose.
    But most of all there should be someone with a radio talking with the helo on ground to air.
    Erickson guys are very good, I have worked with all of there guys at one time or another and they have some of the best.
    If your working around them or around other helio's always look up, and look around as well. like look for trees that might get loose or rocks that might hit you if your on a hill.

    Wombat, to answer your question about being dumped on, with larger fires we have a officer that deals with all aircraft and if something happens were we get a load on us or something happens we file reports with them.

    Hope everyone has a great new year!

  16. #16
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    Question

    The fires in NSW are not only a State problem but a National one as they are starting to affect the Australian economy and all our livelihoods. The campaign by arsonists to burn NSW over the last few weeks is a campaign of terrorism and they should not be treated as arsonists but as terrorists. Interrogation of these people should be conducted by ASIO (The Aussie Spooks) and they should stand trial as terrorists and be eligible for the same penalty as anyone else who infringes Australia's national security. Their aim is to spread fear and terror and they are pretty good at it.

    Sounds like I will see you guys in NSW on Sunday. Still plenty of Vols in Vic prepared to go up there and I see you now appreciate the sky crane -like even the prime minister.

    Any idea on how the CFA trucks are holding up? Wonder if I will be greeted by a heap of hose knotted and abandoned on the top of the tanker
    along with last weeks sandwiches. I think I've been through this before. Shagger please don't lose to many houses and save some work for me.

    [ 01-03-2002: Message edited by: Wombat ]

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  17. #17
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    Shagger came up Sunday went out Sunday night back burning near Woolongong. Got soaked at 2 am. Returned Monday evening to Melbourne. All CFA crews plus trucks are returning Tuesday.
    Yes I go to the right church and God rains when I want him to.

    AIMS/ICS (Aussie inter agency management system) appeared to work well - from my limited observations. Staging areas at Melb,Sydney airports and at the job were well done.
    The interstate agencies have gained experience in this type of job and are performing it alot better than in the past.

    The CFA DMOs (mechanics) did a fantastic job keeping the tankers fully operational in a very demanding situation.

    [ 01-08-2002: Message edited by: Wombat ]

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  18. #18
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    Talking

    Wombat,
    If you really want to poke fun and have a good laugh read the press reports posted here on the fires from the Associated Press reporters. One would think that these guys could grab a map or too before they start writing the crap they do. I gets real embarassing reading the stuff at times.
    BTW do our US friends understand why somebody would be called Wombat. Perhaps I'll leave that for another post.....
    Alan Perkins
    Operations Manager
    The One Stop Rescue Shop
    Sydney Australia

  19. #19
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    Al I use the pen name wombat as a joke the Yanks would not understand ie Eats Roots and Leaves,
    but the wombat is one of our best animals for surviving bushfires ie curled up in a burrow at the bottom of a gully. Probably the best place to be if you cannot out run a fire. Some of the reporting on NSW has been over top and is affecting international tourism and the Australian economy. For that these reasons The Rural Fire Service should make sure it does not happen again.
    The Linton report has come out and cans alot of people. The CFA covers the whole of Victoria and these problems don't occur to the same extent down my way. Can't work out why the Geelong strike team was regarded as the least effective.
    I would have thought that with many permanent
    stations in it they should have been one of the best trained.
    Disclaimer
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