Counting down to bushfire season

Published 6:00am 22 June 2023

Counting down to bushfire season
Words by Nick Crockford

Firefighters are working in a six-week window to prepare Moreton Bay Region for the  bushfire season.

Hazard reduction burns have started – notably on 475 hectares between Bongaree and Woorim at Bribie Island this week – and more will follow.

It comes as authorities are on alert for a dryer El Nino weather pattern after two years of “fairly significant rainfall” accelerated grass growth.

Rural Fire Service (RFS) Brisbane Region Bushfire Mitigation Manager Shaune Toohey said Woodford, west of Caboolture, Dayboro and Samford were “probably the areas of risk”.

Counting down to bushfire season
The hazard reduction burn on Bribie this week. Picture: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

“(There’s) potential for hard, fast-running grass fires that occur in the afternoon and have a quick disruption on communities,” Mr Toohey said.

“(Ground) fuel is a lot higher than we have seen in recent years and this could come online around mid-July to early August when we’ll start seeing grass fires.

“We’re trying to have everything tied away and safe by August 1 then we can still get some work done on higher areas, such as the D’Aguilar Range, with our partner agencies.

“Islands can still get that volatile coastal heat, so it’s northern parts of the region and out to the west we’ll be looking at very closely this year.”

RFS Brisbane Region Bushfire Mitigation Manager Shaune Toohey at Bribie Island Fire Station.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), Queensland Department of Resources, Brisbane City Council, Moreton Bay Regional Council and Somerset Regional Council are all part of Queensland Fire and Rescue Service’s (QFES) preparations.

Bushfire Mitigation Manager Shaune Toohey said they were investigating “what a protracted bushfire season looks like for us”.

“Heading into dry periods of an El Nino season … we’re looking at making sure we have the capacity to sustain the operation.

“Next year windows for burning may be limited for us, so we have to adjust our bushfire treatments ahead, taking a 12-month view.

One of the Community Hubs helping residents prepare for bushfire season. Picture: Queensland Fire and Rescue Service

“(In 2024 it may be) more at community engagement to mitigate some of the bushfire risk.”

Mr Toohey said in the Moreton Bay Region, where many people travel for work, residents need bushfire plans.

“This is so they can make fast decisions as a bushfire occurs,” he said, “perhaps on the way home when staying in tune with local warnings is critical.

“People have to be able to follow us social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) to get the best information relevant to their household, which then links into a household plan for you and your family.”

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