All but impossible to complete roadside burns

All but impossible to complete roadside burns

Pamela and Ian Carr (pictured) are worried about fire.
Outside their front gate is a nature strip and the couple is nervous about the fuel load that lies between it and the Great Alpine Road.
“A cigarette butt could be all it takes, it would be enough to light it up,” Mr Carr said.
The Carrs have lived beside the highway for seven and a half years on the Bruthen side of the Sarsfield Fire Brigade shed.
Mr Carr tidies up their section of frontage but the job is too big for one person.
“It gets back to ownership,” Mr Carr said.
“VicRoads have told us they’re only responsible for two metres off the edge of the road, we’re unsure about what council owns as they haven’t answered our queries.”
The Carrs are big fans of local CFA members but are frustrated by the regulations hindering the crews’ ability to burnoff.
“The CFA is supposed to burn every five years and they haven’t been able to do that,” he said. “The CFA are fantastic people but as I understand it, their hands are tied. “People don’t have an appreciation of the
CFA members, they have a really good understanding of burn offs. If a tree catches fire they douse it.
“There’s a method to everything they do.” The Carrs evacuated twice last summer and say their house lies just six kilometres from where the firefront was. They remain grateful the wind changed back then when it did.
“It’s the most scared I’ve ever been,” Mrs Carr said.
“We’re just trying to get rid of the potential for it to burn hot,” Mr Carr said.
“We see it as a real hazard. Red tape is the killer.”
Earlier in the year the Carrs received a CFA notice stating its intention to burn off, which they say started but was stopped.
Sarsfield CFA captain, Darren Webster, shares the Carrs frustration.
“We’ve had to recommend the area be mulched because we can’t successfully burn the areas within the guidelines,” he said.
He said many of the trees had been marked as ‘vulnerable’ .
“We know roadside burning is controversial across the community.
“There’s a public perception about blackened trees but the amount of manpower and hours we would have to spend to ensure the trees aren’t blackened is too much.
“The rules on roadside burning have made it all but impossible for us,” he said.
He said the burn-off situation had stagnated due to constricting regulations.
“We have to conform to a whole lot of regulations, the temperature, wind, forecast, the dryness of the material we want to burn, the humidity.
“It certainly is a challenge. And then for every season that’s missed the fuel load is added to and that makes it harder.”
Mr Webster said he knew of some brigades walking away because the restrictions were too great but said there was a lot of discussion occurring in the background.
“There has been too much good work done, we won’t take the foot off the pedal.”


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