HAZARDS BURNS: Southern Downs firefighters control a burn at the peak of the Warwick and District Archery Club.
HAZARDS BURNS: Southern Downs firefighters control a burn at the peak of the Warwick and District Archery Club.

PHOTOS: Southern Downs fireys get proactive about fire risk

AFTER last year’s horror fire season, no one wants a repeat — lest of all those on the frontline.

That’s why Southern Downs rural firefighters are urging landowners to get busy now, before it’s too late.

Four crews from The Glen, Freestone and Leslie were out in full force on Saturday, undertaking hazard reduction burns at the Warwick Archery Club.

The cold burns aimed to remove rubbish, ticks and feral vegetation such as prickly pears from the 52.6 ha property to reduce looming fire potential.

It was the first time in 10 years the club had undergone such fire preparation, according to President Brad O’Neil.

“It means we don’t have to worry through the fire season for club grounds and it helps clean the facilities for members,” he said.
“Last year was a concern for us. It is quite a dense and thick around here.”

Freestone Rural Fire Brigade first officer Alan Payne said there was a risk of fast-running fires across the region as fire season came into play.

“There’s a lot of grass in the paddocks now and of course, there’s a lack of cattle because in the drought people destocked. Therefore, we’ve got huge grass loads or high grass so we’ll have fast running fires when they kick off,” Mr Payne said.

“We’re concerned about that and particularly the fact it has stayed dry. It hasn’t rained around here. They’re talking rain in June and July but that has to come yet.”

While rain had helped at the beginning of the year, Mr Payne said landowners couldn’t afford to become complacent about preparing their properties.

“We were looking at a higher fire danger within the ranges this time last year, whereas, we’ve had rain around there now which is dampened things up. But saying that, everything is drying up again,” he said.

“This is the time to get out and do something about it. To do controlled burns or slash — to get grass loads down around infrastructure.

“The idea is to be proactive now, rather than later.”

But Mr Payne’s fears had been balanced out by a strong group of fresh volunteer faces, bolstered by the heroic efforts of the rural fire service.

Mr Payne had three new recruits out learning on the burn, and said the region had overall, seen an encouraging increase in numbers.
“In particular, we’ve had an influx of young people, which has been really good,” he said.

“All the brigades have managed to score more recruits, and we’re had a lot of inquiries this year.

“We’ve always had a good relationship with the public but it’s great to see our esteem has increased even more.”



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