Controlled burn of gamba grass

Bushfire safety management

In February 2009 bushfires devastated many Victorian towns and localities, resulting in the loss of 173 lives.

Since these harrowing and severe bushfires a Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission has been established. The Royal Commission’s brief includes, but is not limited to, enquiry on the causes and circumstances of the bushfires, activities conducted for prevention of and preparedness for bushfire by Government and the Community, and measures taken to prevent loss of life and property in responding to the bushfires.

The Commission has already released a comprehensive Interim Report with release of a final report intended at the end of July 2010.

The Interim Report has caused fire authorities across Australia to review and re-evaluate all of their operational response planning and procedures, business management systems and community focussed programs. The Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service (NTFRS) is not immune to this re-evaluation and has spent considerable energy in considering how it might better focus its resources to minimise the likelihood and consequence of such an event impacting on the Territory community.

A primary objective of the re-evaluation is better community preparedness for bushfire in the Northern Territory.  This will be brought about by implementation of improved community information on bushfire prevention, fire behaviour and management, and a more focussed bushfire information and warning system when uncontrolled bushfires are burning.

The Northern Territory Government has supported the NTFRS in reviewing and re-structuring its community safety programs to better reflect nationally agreed initiatives working under the new theme of PREPARE. ACT. SURVIVE.

Under this banner, bushfires become a shared responsibility between fire authorities and the community, with landholders playing a significant role in bushfire preparedness.

Initiatives include:

  • the adoption of a new national framework for fire warnings which includes a redesigned fire danger ratings system that incorporates a new category of ‘Catastrophic’;
  • NTFRS and Bushfires NT working collaboratively to develop strategic hazard abatement programs for greater protection of property from bushfire in urban and the urban/rural interface;
  • introduction of an improved bushfire emergency warning system designed to provide information to Communities in the path of uncontrolled bushfires with the potential to impact on life and property, to enable residents to make potentially life saving decisions quickly;
  • an enhanced arrangement with the national emergency broadcaster ABC, and other media, for disseminating ‘Bushfire Emergency Warning’ messages and ‘Bushfire Watch and Act’ messages;
  • the trialling of a telephone based text and voice emergency messaging system for landline and mobile telephone subscribers in areas with the potential to be impacted by an uncontrolled fire.

For your information and to assist you in developing your plan for surviving bushfire, more detailed information about these initiatives will be released in the near future.