O’Farrell: RFS are better than Victoria, see!

Barry O'Farrell“This will be as bad as it gets”
So we kicked ass better than the Victorians in 2009,
we only had two deaths


The State Mine Bushfire


On Wednesday afternoon 16 October 2013, government Defence Force recklessly over-indulged in a live munitions exercise at the Marrangaroo army range.  The range is situated on the outskirts of  the town of Lithgow, New South Wales, upwind of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.   The exercised directly sparked a fire in dry grass on the range.  Fanned by strong, hot, westerly winds it rapidly moved eastwards to the forested hillside on the northern side of Lithgow.

The fire spread into bushland and over the following week extended out of control burning out most of the northern region of the Blue Mountains National Park, parts of Wollemi National Park, and triggered the evacuation of most of the Lithgow region. The communities affected included Bell, Berambing, Bilpin, Clarence, Dargan, Hartley Vale, Lithgow, McKellars Park, Mount Irvine, and Mount Wilson. The fire burnt out more than 55,000 hectares (140,000 acres) between Lithgow and Bilpin.

Rural Fire Service Dad’s Army suppression delays meant that instead of waterbombing a small grassfire on the 16th, what was allowed to grow into a massive wildfire front saw fire bombing of vast hillsides in a multi-flank head burning response.  Many more thousands of hectares of bushland habitat in and around the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area were incinerated.  But the total area of fire impact has not been made public by the RFS.

During that week fighting fires across New South Wales, two men tragically died.   A 63-year-old man suffered a heart attack while fighting a fire at his home at Lake Munmorah on the Central Coast.   Agricultural Pilot David Black, 43, from Trangie in the Central NSW died when his Dromader aircraft crashed while contracted to the RFS to waterbomb the Wirritin Ridge Bushfire in the Budawang National Park.

<< ”This will be as bad as it gets,” Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.  ”On days like [this], there’s a very real potential for more loss of homes and life. There’s is real potential for more homes and lives lost on Wednesday, says the NSW Rural Fire Commissioner.

RFS ArmageddonRFS Armageddon


Weather worse than the extremes already predicted, combined with large bushfires burning out of control, and the real potential for others to spark up, have prompted a very grim warning.   The RFS had warned since the weekend about the potential devastation Wednesday’s weather could cause but the revised forecast on Tuesday was even more worrying, Mr Fitzsimmons said.

Wednesday would be hotter, drier and windier than the dire predictions previously forecast, posing a grave challenge to one of the largest firefighting contingents assembled in NSW history. They would have to battle an active 1500-kilometre fire edge in the Blue Mountains where three major fires, one at Bilpin now linked to the second at Mount Victoria and a third at Springwood, burned out of control.    ”It’s a difficult, dynamic, dangerous fire-ground situation,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.  >>


[Source:  ‘This will be as bad as it gets’: Blue Mountains fire crews prepare for the worst‘, 20131022, by Nick Ralston, Emma Partridge, Sydney Morning Herald, ^http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/this-will-be-as-bad-as-it-gets-blue-mountains-fire-crews-prepare-for-the-worst-20131022-2vz3h.html]


RFS Promo
RFS Homebush doing staged PR shoot…when?


<< Two weeks after the worst of NSW’s bushfire emergency, the O’Farrell Government is refusing to say whether it will consider burying power lines in fire-prone areas or buy back properties razed in risky locations – key responses to the Black Saturday fires.

The Rural Fire Service says a power line started a blaze that jumped a road and then engulfed almost 200 houses at Springwood, Winmalee and Yellow Rock in the Blue Mountains on October 17.

Fallen or damaged power lines caused most of the 173 deaths in Victoria’s Black Saturday disaster of 2009. After the royal commission on those fires recommended action to address overhead power lines, the state government announced a $1 billion plan to replace them with underground cables.

That royal commission also recommended the government buy back houses in areas at extreme fire risk, and Victoria has spent $25.6 million on 116 properties. Some of the land will be sold to surrounding neighbours, who will use it as a buffer between the bush and their homes.

On Tuesday, Fairfax Media sent specific questions about power lines and property buy-backs to Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher. The Planning Department responded but did not address the questions, instead saying NSW had the toughest bushfire planning approvals regime in Australia.

When pressed on the need for a ministerial response, his spokesman said: ”The priority of this government at this point in time is responding to both the uncontained fires still burning across the state and the high winds this afternoon.”

When the same questions were put to Mr O’Farrell’s office on Thursday, it responded with a statement the Premier made that day in Parliament. “After events such as these there are always lessons that can be learned and applied to the future and we are determined to do so,” Mr O’Farrell had said.

”There are several investigations under way into the fires. The government will closely examine the work of those investigations.”

The statement made no mention of the lessons of Black Saturday. >>


Kilmore East Fire MapKilmore East Fire Victoria
Started by Government neglect on 7th February 2009


State Mine Fire 2013Comparative scale of the State Mine Fire (Lithgow, NSW)
Started by Government neglect on 16th October 2013
..that diverted critical firefighting resources from Winmalee


[Source:  ‘O’Farrell fans flames of frustration as experts warn it is time to act‘, 20131103, by Rick Feneley, News and features writer, Sydney Morning Herald, ^http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/ofarrell-fans-flames-of-frustration-as-experts-warn-it-is-time-to-act-20131102-2wtdq.html]


Firing Explosives Keep Out


2 Responses to “O’Farrell: RFS are better than Victoria, see!”

  1. kate says:

    Dad’s army is about right and worse still a law unto themselves, the volunteer brigades, who cannot be held accountable under the law despite holding legal rights of destruction way beyond their capability or training. As fire threats grow in a drying warming epoch, governments should professionalise the service. Dump the outrageous Abbott parental care voter bribe and use the dosh for real fire prevention. Great article. Thanks

  2. stuart says:

    great article. happy to finally hear someone questioning/criticizing the infallible RFS.

    Although i don’t like the chances of the libs spending any EXTRA money on fire protection as they are currently spending less and closing stations in the greater Sydney area.

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