Agencies learn candling techniques

CFA West Region hosted the third inter-agency Candling Community of Practice Workshop on Friday 12 and Sat 13 May at the Adekate Lodge at Dean near Creswick.

About 35 participants from CFA, DELWP (Forest Fire Management Victoria), HVP Plantations, University of Melbourne Bushfire Behaviour and Management and even an international visitor from US came along to share and gain knowledge on candling through hands on learning.

‘Candling’ involves burning the extreme bark hazard off trees in the cooler months of the year to reduce ember hazard during planned burns and bushfires.

Senior Instructor for the workshop CFA’s Roger Strickland said, “Spot fires emanating from bushfires are a major hazard for firefighters and communities trying to defend assets. The practice of candling helps to reduce spotting and makes life easier for planned burn crews working to reduce fuel hazard”.

Ian Morrison, Vegetation Management Officer (VMO) for CFA West Region said, “the need for candling in this block was to reduce the bark hazard and hence spotting activity during a future planned burn next autumn. This would also reduce ember attack on the Adekate camp and in the surrounding area”.

Senior Instructors Roger Strickland (CFA) and Les Vearing (DELWP) led discussions and practical demonstrations on bark and surface fuel moisture readings, weather measurements; ignition techniques for candling, growth characteristics of trees, identification of hollow/habitat and hazardous trees and showed the most efficient techniques to minimise fire impacts to habitat trees. Ian Morrison, VMO for the area, gave the on-site briefing including site risk assessment and identification of hazards and safety procedures. Instructors also showed participants techniques to concentrate convective heat on and around the trees and this proved to achieve results.

CFA and DELWP fire equipment researchers attended and showed the latest in equipment research and development to assist in candling.Owen Parker Fire Equipment Development Officer from DELWP spoke about the research, development and operation of DELWP’s Vehicle Mounted Drip Torch (VMDT) that is currently in production.

CFA was also able to test its prototype gel tanker, which is funded by the Summer Fire Safety Initiatives Grant and uses gel technology as a fire suppressant to protect vegetation.

At the end of the two-day workshop crews felt very satisfied that the majority of the messmate stringybark trees had been charred to at least 3 metres in readiness for the planned burn on that block next season.

Terry Ouroumis, Project Manager for CFA’s Planned Burning Project said, “These Burn Camp activities are proving extremely valuable; especially the two-way knowledge transfer and relationship building that occurs between CFA, FFMVic and our Industry colleagues such as HVP”.

The workshops International visitor Ken Kempter from the US Forest Service will take the valuable learnings from the workshop back to his team in California to discuss the benefits of conducting candling in areas where they have many Australian eucalypts close to communities that are impacted by burning embers during wildfires.


Author: Planned Burning Project