Managing fire on the rail trail

At the last meeting of Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail, Frank McKee presented a plan for fire management.

Frank is First Officer Many Peaks Brigade, Fire Warden for his brigade area and Boyne Valley, a qualified crew leader incident controller and recently retired Group Officer for Port Curtis.

This is designed as a living document which can be updated as necessary, and will mesh with other management modules yet to be prepared for the corridor.

It has an attachment showing a fire plan which was part of the conditions for a burn permit, to use as an example template in the future.

Frank has plans for a further addition to the document which will design trigger points for when burning is necessary.

I would foresee similar modules for:

  • mapping
  • listing, protecting and conserving physical assets
  • vegetation management, protection and renewal
  • weed management
  • building projects
  • finance

Fire Management Plan

Preamble

(This is a draft document.)

While it would be great to say there is no need for fire if the whole corridor is mown, recognise this is not feasible. Fire, used wisely and appropriately, can be a valuable tool to enhance the corridor and protect our assets. Overgrown vegetation and raging wild fire can destroy it.

At the local level, prevailing conditions should dictate our recommended way to manage fire on the corridor between Gayndah and Taragoola.

Managing fire along such a length is only possible with good co-operation with neighbours. We must develop a plan for those places where mowing is not possible or practical.

Consideration must be given as to who will apply for a permit to burn, and why. Hazard reduction will have a different methodology from pasture management, and be carried out at differing times with different moisture levels. This will be dependent upon whether the trail is in a grazed area, or a non-grazed and unmown condition.

Consideration will also have to be given to trail closures during fire related maintenance, or times of bush fire affecting the trail area. Trees planted within the trail corridor or plants of value will need protection, as will any other infrastructure and assets.

Aim

Provide guidelines to enable good fire management in co-operation with adjoining landholders and integrate with different fire regimes desired by different agendas.

E.g. Forestry, National Parks, & townships etc. will want to burn at different times for different reasons to other landholders.

Members of BBIRT may have varying required fire regimes. e.g. Burning land open to grazing may need to be done at a different time to parts of the corridor locked up with heavy fuel load.

Bridges and other infrastructure need to use fire and other means for protection from bushfire.

There will be places where vegetation or trees need protection from bushfire.

There will be places where a fire at the start of winter is the best option for our purposes but not for neighbours. Define a way to resolve this.

Get all neighbours to recognise that we have legitimate aspirations to protect assets along the corridor.

Result

Map to identify corridor assets and areas where different requirements for fire usage are needed.

Suggest best methodology for different requirements / regimes.

E.g. fire management for remote heavy fuel load areas.

Aim for a cool winter burn to reduce fire hazard in spring in conjunction with neighbours. Get them to recognise their fire plans will need to include protection of our assets.

Graded breaks to be avoided if possible except on flat land. For fire management for heavy fuel load areas close to infrastructure, clear 2 meter width break, or wet edge and blower:  cool burn away to defined edge if neighbour do not want to burn.

For fire management for heavy fuel load areas close to townships, slash first and only burn if absolutely necessary in conjunction with neighbours if possible. Get them to recognise their fire plans will need to include protection of our assets. Protect wanted trees etc. with a 2 metre cleared break.

For fire management for remote grazed light fuel load areas, burns to fit in with, or be conducted by neighbours, and getting them to recognise their fire plans will need to include protection of our assets.

Permits

Clearly identify who owns the fire, and who should apply for the permit to burn. Ensure all conditions on the permit are met and complied with.

While it is possible the fire Warden may make trail closure a condition of the permit, always be alert that public safety is always to the fore, with trail closures put in place for safety, of both the public, and also of those conducting the burn.

Action

I intend to table this document in its present form to the BBIRT meeting for consideration. This will be a living document, with ongoing updates and revision as decided by the members of BBIRT as conditions dictate.

All actions should include all stakeholders, neighbours, Fire Wardens and Rural Fire Brigades along the corridor to ensure the most appropriate conditions are considered and implemented.

Example Burn Plan

Conditions. Must receive 15 to 20 mm at site of rain gauge near burn area, with-in 10 days since last fall of 40+ mm.

Must burn with-in three days of such rain fall when wind is from south to south-east. Fire not to be lit before 3.00 pm.

Burn will be in conjunction with XXXXXXXX or agent, XXXXXX XXXX, XXXXXXXX or agent from XXXXXX, and XXXXXXXX XXXX or agent from XXXXXXXX. None of the mentioned people need to be on the actual fire ground, but can if they desire. QPWS is happy for the burn to proceed, subject to the following of conditions on the burn permit.

The burn will comprise of two elements. The first element will utilise the track high up in XXXXXXXX XXXX, and will proceed as so. At least four people will conduct this element.

One drip torch, two knapsacks, and one leaf blower will be the minimum equipment required. Method will be the leaf blower operator will ensure all leaf matter is cleared from the dozed track, then clear a trail to the gully where the burn will start. XXXXX will ensure this location, either verbally or in person, as he sees fit.

The fire will be lit and controlled by leaf blower and the two knapsacks, and brought down to the dozed break. It will then be brought along to the XXXXXX XXXX boundary. Two people with knapsacks will stay in the top section to ensure fire does not escape. The other two can now prepare for the second segment. At this stage, the second element can commence.

Second section will commence as soon as the top section is secure. A combination of leaf blower and fire appliance can now be the controlling elements, along with the drip torch operator to progress the burn downward along the fence; ensuring fire is kept out of XXXXX XXXX.

This will be done in usual Rural Fire Brigade fashion, and when completed, the whole area will be damped down, then totally blacked out. The fire area will be patrolled until it is totally out. Recommended that two brigade vehicles attend, or one Brigade unit and a ute with a slip-on unit be used. All parties to share ideas.

If required Frank can be contacted via our Contact page

07/02/2019

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