WITH a spate of fires having battered the region in recent weeks, increased calls for more controlled burning are being made to ensure future damage to properties and crops is kept to a minimum.
One such individual who is concerned is Mareeba Shire Council Deputy Mayor and Mount Carbine resident Alan Pedersen, who believes landowners need to be made more aware of the preparations and measures they can take to protect themselves and other properties from bushfires.
“I think the problem we continually see is that landowners are leaving it too late put in breaks,” he said.
“I’m out in the western area and we bring in helicopters and firebomb from April through to July where we do massive areas consisting of hundreds of kilometres.
“And when I come into town (Mareeba and surrounds), I see these beautiful corridors that are council roads that could’ve been burned back in July and now they’re just holding huge fuel loads.”
Cr Pedersen said greater collaboration between the Mareeba Shire Council, TMR, the QFES, Rural Fire Service and landowners is required to ensure a safer fire season next year.
“A simple firebreak won’t hold it, the corridors need to be 50-100 metres wide – so if we can achieve that through early burning that would give landowners a lot more security relating to their properties,” he said.
“So we’ll do our best at Council to work with the necessary people to ensure landowners have a greater understanding of what they can and can’t do regarding controlled burning.
“We seem to be having these issues every year, so we want the community thinking about fires when it’s not fire season such as in April and May.”
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service’s (QFES) Acting Inspector and Area Director for the Cairns Peninsula Fiona Quirk said the issuing of fire permits is at the discretion of the region’s local fire warden.
“There’s a reluctance to hand out fire permits at this stage and when they are, there are strict regulations in place to prevent the escape of a fire,” she said.
“Some of those regulations include lighting fires later in the afternoon and when there aren’t significant wind gusts around for example.”
Ms Quirk also called on landowners to be ready for what is a gruelling summer ahead.
“As there is a bit of lull at the moment with the conditions, landowners should take this opportunity to start making preparations for what will be a long and hot fire season ahead,” she said.
“As stated in the act, all reasonable measures should be taken to ensure a fire doesn’t escape from their land.”