Smoke expected as landholders carry our hazard burns

SUNSHINE Coast, Gympie and Wide Bay Burnett residents may notice smoke in the air over the next few months as landholders take proactive measures to reduce bushfire risks.

Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) North Coast Regional Manager Peter Hollier said he expected an increase in hazard reduction burns by landholders in the lead-up to bushfire season, coinciding with firefighters undertaking work as part of Operation Cool Burn.

Operation Cool Burn is a large-scale initiative involving Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing, and local councils working together to undertake mitigation activities across Queensland to reduce fire risk in bushfire-prone areas.

Mr Hollier said the North Coast region had experienced a dry summer with little growth to grass and bushland but that did not mean residents could be complacent.

"There was below average rainfall during the summer months, which inhibited the grass fuel load across the region," Mr Hollier said.

"There are still pockets that have been identified as potential fire hazards, so it is important action is taken early to prevent them from becoming a threat during bushfire season.

"Often the most effective way to reduce the fuel load is burning it in a controlled fire. This is known as a hazard reduction burn or a controlled burn.

"There may be large burns that will produce a large volume of smoke over the coming months. There's no need to be alarmed though, as we'll have plenty of resources on hand to safely and effectively reduce the fuel load."

Mr Hollier said it was important landholders reduced fire hazards on their property, such as removing undergrowth and raking up bark and sticks.

"It is the responsibility of every resident and landholder to ensure their properties, homes and families are bushfire prepared," Mr Hollier said.

"Landholders who want to conduct a hazard reduction burn should contact the Fire Warden in their area first to obtain a free Permit to Light Fire.

"This is a simple but important process. Permit conditions are mandatory and it is important people abide by the rules outlined by the Fire Warden. If these are not implemented the permit is invalid. The responsibility of containing a fire to a permitted burn lies with the landholder."

Mr Hollier said permits contained clear guidelines on when a fire could be lit and what precautions needed to be taken.

"Permit holders must also notify their neighbours of planned burns. This reduces the chance of unnecessary calls being made to emergency services," he said.

"Tough penalties can apply for people who light fires without a permit."

Landholders can locate their local Fire Warden by using the Fire Warden Finder tool on the Rural Fire Service website or by contacting their local Area Office. Details are available at www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au.

For media enquiries contact the QFES media team on 3635 3310



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