Farm fire risk at your front door as WA firefighting decimated by vaccine mandates
Farmers across Australia are being urged to ensure they are prepared for yet another potentially disastrous fire season, with large amounts of recent rainfall and increased fuel loads in some areas making farming sites increasingly vulnerable.
The combination of torrential rain and hot conditions can be devastating and farmers are once again being warned that a lack of diligence could result in tragic consequences.
Tony Mahar of the National Farmers' Federation made no secret of the fact that increased vulnerabilities for farming communities were a concern.
"Despite the widespread rainfall, it only takes a few hot, dry days for paddocks, including yet-to-be-harvested winter crops, to be a fire waiting to happen."
Further fears are also mounting as shortages of farmers who also volunteer in fire-fighting capacities bring an increased risk for farming regions.
Western Australia Farmers CEO Trevor Whittington highlighted the increased danger due to shortages in manpower:
"From one end of the state to the other we've never seen anything like it, there's just grass everywhere and that's just heightened the risks."
"There's less and less farmers which is always the challenge ... less people with their utes and their firefighting trucks to go out and fight fires ... and less people on the ground over those really dangerous months of January, February and March.
"The pressure is on the volunteers because of mandatory vaccinations and mandatory training ... and we're losing volunteers, from 31,000 bushfire volunteers ten years ago we're down to 27,000."
Some of WA's biggest harvests are still underway and Whittington assured the farming community that best practices be upheld during anxious times.
"It only takes one spark and up it goes ... this is a particularly important year because there's so much volatile material out there and we're just lacking people."
"There's still too many fires created by people making mistakes, that naked flame dropped, people not checking equipment ... people doing stupid things."
Australian bushfires burned 18.6 million hectares between September 2019 and March 2020.