The Territories top firefighter is asking Canberrans to remain vigilant to the threat of bushfire even though summer is over.
Joe Murphy, Chief Officer of the ACT Rural Fire Service (ACTRFS) says, “There is still a significant potential for a bushfire.”
“Despite recent rain, warm days and warm winds will soon have the bush back to elevated fire conditions without further rain.
“Autumn is traditionally when prescribed burns are completed so fire remains a constant threat,” Mr Murphy says.
Looking back over the three months of summer, the fire chief says its been a relatively quiet bushfire season at home, however, ACT volunteers and staff have been called in to assist with a number of significant fires in New South Wales at Taralga, Nerriga, and Wollemi State Forest.
The summer of 2018 marked the 15th anniversary of the devastating 2003 Canberra Bushfires. Four people died in those flames, 500 homes were lost and dozens more injured and displaced by the disaster.
The lessons learned during the intensity of January 2003 continue to shape the region’s response to bushfire.
While continuing to manage the current risks, Mr Murphy and local brigades will soon have an eye on the next bushfire season.
“Winter is our time to learn from the last season and prepare for the next. The ACT Rural Fire Service have a pre-season preparedness program that kicks off as Spring arrives,” Mr Murphy says.
“This month we continue the Canberra Bushfire Ready campaign with more doorknocking in Bushfire Prone Areas.
“We always encourage Canberrans to complete and review their Bushfire Survival Plan with their family, and there is no time like the present,” Mr Murphy says.
Residents are also asked to maintain their properties against the threat of bushfires and ember attack by keeping shrubbery neat, removing dry branches and generally keeping yards neat and tidy.
“Being bushfire aware is a shared responsibility between the community and fire services,” Mr Murphy says.
“People should also take the time to meet their neighbours, understand their limitations and how the community might be able to support each other in an emergency,” MrMurphy says.
During the course of 15th-anniversary commemorations this summer, the ACT Government stressed that the ACT Emergency Services Agency was now better prepared for a bushfire emergency.
“Without our fabulous volunteers, their families and employers, we couldn’t do what we do,” Mr Murphy says.
“Their passion, skill and determination is a testament to the quality of the community.
“I’d also like to thank ACTRFS staff for their continued dedication to the service and of course our partners at ACT Fire & Rescue and the Parks and Conservation Service,” he says.
For tips on how you can prepare for bushfire, download a Bushfire Survival Plan, check to see if you live in a bushfire prone area, or to see real-time alerts and warnings visit the emergency services website.