The fuel load pre-burn
The grassy slopes of the railway bridge just north of Guildford were identified by the local CFA brigade as a fire risk to the township.
The slopes were covered in thick phalaris grasses built up over many years, with an estimated fuel loading of 7 tonnes per hectare. It was decided a planned burn was the most appropriate way to reduce the fuel load.
The dense phalaris slopes west of the bridge were burned as part of a CFA planned burn in autumn 2019. This removed the heavy build-up of phalaris and provided a fresh base for winter regrowth.
This planned burn provided live fire training for CFA members in a controlled environment while reducing a fire risk for Guildford. Guildford Fire Brigade Captain Ash Franklin was the burn controller.
"The planned burn was very successful and we used this burn to give [local] brigades exposure to equipment that normally they would not have the opportunity to use," Ash said.
In February 2020, following a wet winter and spring, the grass had regrown. However, regrowth was greener and held a fuel loading of 3-3.5 tonnes per hectare – at least half the fuel levels prior to burning.
In autumn 2021, a second planned burn was undertaken to remove the heavy fuels on the eastern side of the bridge and a section to the west of the bridge was also burned again. These works included night-time burning.
This fuel management is a great example of what can be achieved when agencies work together – in this case CFA, SES, VicTrack, Department of Transport, Mount Alexander Shire Council and traffic management agencies.
The local brigade received positive community feedback.
"The community of Guildford has given the thumbs up to not only a fire break but a cleaner entry into the village," Ash said.
- 1.5 years after the 2019 burn
- Night burn 2021
- Two weeks after the 2021 burn
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