The Malua Bay Rural
Fire Brigade is an “urban interface” brigade made up of committed volunteers
who respond to house fires, bush fires and motor vehicle accidents
particularly in the suburban areas of Lilli Pilli, Malua Bay, Rosedale, Guerilla Bay and surrounds. We also regularly conduct
Hazard Reduction Burns to protect the community from fire and to reduce the
impact of future bush fire threats.
The description of the brigade as an
"urban interface" brigade means that there are significant mixing
of bush land and dwellings in an urban like
environment. We also have portions of the brigade area that are larger
holdings either rural or semi rural. So we locally
have the whole array of response challenges for a rural brigade.
The brigade has nearly 3,000 rate assessments
in its area - that is potential land owners. We believe that nearly 60% of
these could be absentee landowners (either having infrequently visited
holiday homes or are rental properties). Also, generally all the land in our
area has been classified as "fire prone land" by the Council. We
are trying to give our land owners a sense of who we are, what we do, the structure of the RFS, how decisions are made and
where they can get information from. Through this we hope to raise awareness
and give owners and occupiers an understanding of contemporary knowledge
about getting ready for the fire season as well as general safety issues
should a fire eventuate.
Developing a communications platform is an
ongoing priority for us and in addition to the web page we put out an annual
newsletter, make community presentations when asked and hold a "Get Ready Day" during September each year leading up to the fire season.
The web page continues
to be developed and we would really like your comments on whether there are
things that could be added to make it more relevant to your needs, areas that
could be expanded or simply to tell us we have hit the mark with what is on
there. Our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summer Fire Season
At the beginning of the 2013/14 and 2014/15 fire seasons
we said they had all the hallmarks of being challenging times for brigades,
thankfully we were spared that major challenge locally. Little did we know
the extent of the impact that bush fires would have across the state and that
the year 2013/14 year would turn out to be the worst on record. We generally look north to
get a feel for what the potential future levels of fire dangers are likely to
be. Early in this, season at the end of September, Southern Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania have already had many large and dangerous fires. Past experience has shown that the north coast of NSW is about six weeks ahead of
us while the Sydney area is three to four weeks ahead in exhibited potential
As a brigade we are always looking at predicting what the future summer conditions will be like. The Bureau of Meteorology is one organisation that we are guided by and they have recently provided a special update that is worth a close look at - you can get more details by going to Climate Outlook - in summary they say
"A special update of the climate outlooks has been released due to a significant shift towards a drier October nation-wide, related to the emerging positive Indian Ocean Dipole reinforcing the strong El Niño. September rainfall was the third driest on record for Australia. Very low rainfall has been received over the past 12 months in the southwest of Western Australia, southeast South Australia and most of Victoria.
"Due to changed conditions in the tropical Indian Ocean and the strong 2015 El Niño, the rainfall outlook for October has shown a significant shift towards a drier month nation-wide, with the southeast quarter of Australia indicating a less than 20% chance of exceeding median rainfall for the month. This means the region has a greater than 80% chance of a drier month.
"The October rainfall outlook is accompanied with high chances of warmer days and nights south of the tropics.
October to December is likely to be drier than average across the southeast and northeast, with parts of central Australia likely to be wetter than average. Warmer days and nights are likely for Australia, except the northern tropics.
"The current outlook reflects a combination of a mature El Niño in the Pacific, and an emerging positive Indian Ocean Dipole."
From the above BOM prediction it looks like the season ahead will be hot and dry thus giving elevated fire risk factors in our area. However local
conditions can vary depending on past local rainfall, prevailing climate conditions and the general vegetation build up in the bush
land in the immediate area. But we need to be ready!
Be Informed of changing weather and alerts
One of the important things you need to do during the fire season is to keep informed of weather conditions, emergency alerts and changing updates as they happen. We offer a cluster of websites that we have called weather watch to assist you to quickly assess the prevailing conditions and their impact on fire potential and intensity. These are sites that will give you up to date information on the fire situation, fire declarations and a quick means to follow developing weather conditions. It is worth becoming familiar with the updates and how they change before the fire season arrives.
If a fire happens near you do you have a plan?
Bush fires are a natural part of the Australian environment
and occur regularly, but many people fail to prepare for them. When
threatened by bush fires, people will often leave it too late to make
critical decisions and often have few safe options left.
The Rural Fire Service's web page has excellent information on
things you should consider, things you should do to prepare and also how to
respond to a fire situation. You can access this information through this (Link) to their site. Watch the short video it is really useful
In this link it is suggested that there are three stages in
being fire ready and briefly they are:
You must make important decisions before the fire
the fire danger rating, the more dangerous conditions.
threaten without warning so you need to know what you will do to survive.
Fire Survival Plan
You can access and download a
copy of the bush fire survival plan from the above link, this document covers in detail the things you should think about in being
ready. Pages 16 and 17 are particularly helpful as they allow you to put your
own information in for the situations of "Our Leave Early Plan" and "Our Stay and Defend Plan". This is a must read document to help you be fully prepared.
It also gives you very
valuable information on things like:
Protect your family, protect
Understanding your level of risk
Preparing your plan, yourself and your property
Knowing the danger ratings
Keeping yourself informed
Neighbourhood Safer Places
Emergency Survival Kits
Myth Busters (Commonly misunderstood beliefs); and finally
A section to assist in getting the kids to understand the
dangers and issues.
At the beginning of each fire season a "Fire Danger Period" is declared, for the 2015/16 season the declaration is from 1st October 2015 to 31st March 2016. During this period
you are required to have a "Fire Permit" to do any burning off at all -
even a small pile of material.
The aim of the Fire Permit is
to ensure fire will be used safely. A permit imposes conditions on the way a
fire is lit and maintained, and can only be issued by authorised Permit
Issuing Officers. The permit system informs the authorities exactly when and
where landowners intend to burn, to ensure adequate and appropriate measures
are in place, so that fires remain under control. You can find more
information on the RFS Web Page at the following (Link).
A Total Fire Ban declaration
will override any permits issued and the rules around a total fire ban and
its operation can be found through this (Link). You should note the new penalties for failing to comply with
information for the Malua Bay Brigade area on when you can burn off and Fire Permits please contact the Brigade Captain Martin Green on 4471
Fire Danger Ratings
The Fire Danger Rating
(FDR) gives you an indication of the consequences of a fire, if a fire was to
start. The rating is based on predicted conditions such as the temperature,
relative humidity, wind and dryness of the landscape. It tells you how a bush fire may
act, what impacts there might be on the community if a bush fire were to
start and when to implement your Bush Fire Survival Plan.
Click on the picture for today's
fire rating in your area.
The Fire Danger Rating (FDR)
is an assessment of the potential fire behaviour, the difficulty of
suppressing a fire, and the potential impact on the community should a bush
fire occur on a given day. The FDR is determined by the Fire Danger Index (FDI).
The FDI is a combination of air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed
An FDI of 1 (Low-Moderate) means that fire will not
burn, or will burn so slowly that it will be easily controlled, whereas an
FDI in excess of 100 (Catastrophic) means that fire will burn so fast and
so hot that it is uncontrollable.
A good explanation of the FDR, what each means,
what the potential fire behaviour could be, what
the impact potential and what your actions need to be are given in an RFS
2009 publication called "Fire Rating Index" and can be accessed
by clicking on the following link Fire
Interested in Joining Our Brigade
Anyone interested in joining is welcome to
drop into the shed on either the 1st, 2nd or 4th Tuesday of the Month at 6pm.
Also see our "Brigade
Members" section and our "Join
Us" section by clicking on the navigation bar on the top left
hand side of this page for more details.
Alternate Season Information
There are two distinct alert seasons for the Malua Bay Rural Fire Brigade the first and most important is the summer high risk bush fire season where the brigade has to be ready to respond to open area fires very quickly. The second season is the winter months when we cover more urban issues locally, support other agencies, get ready for next season and help residents prepare their properties for the next fire season.
Acknowledging these quite distinct seasonal differences our website also changes it emphasis. We include a link to let you see what the issues are in the alternate season offering you an understanding of the scope of issues that need to be looked at over a full year. The information reflects the issues we see as important to consider during the winter months or "Off Season" in 2015/16.