The benefits of roadside burns

When many people in the state are on holiday down the coast, the local brigades are busy over a period of a few days trying to make the communities they live in a bit safer.

By David Allen – DGO Westmere Group

Many of the roads in parts of District 16 have been burnt for many years. In the Westmere Group, for example, roadsides have been burnt for more than 60 years.

Burning the roads annually is good management practice because:

  • it reduces the chance of fires starting on the roadsides
  • it creates a strategic break to work from in the event of a bigger fire
  • it’s a great training exercise for young members
  • it provides the local community with a good sense of security
  • it meets the obligations of the local shire municipal fire prevention programs
  • it makes sure the equipment we use is in full operating condition
  • it has great ecological importance for native grasslands which are continuously threatened.

There is, however, a significant cost to do roadside burns and the brigades at Woorndoo and Chatsworth have been keeping track of the cost. 

In 2013, Woorndoo brigade worked over 3 days for 18.8 hours and a total of 55km at a cost of $31,470. Chatsworth brigade worked for 23 hours, a total of 60km at a cost of $52,476.

When combined, this gives a cost of $2,000 an hour or $728 per kilometre to get the roads burnt.

What we do is an important community service and to make our job easier it would be great if we had easier access to ex-CFA trucks so that farmers have better, safer equipment to use for road burning and fighting bushfires – after all, in this area for every CFA truck there will be 8-10 private trucks getting to the fire first.

We would also greatly appreciate support from councils and VicRoads in the form of equipment, water access, tree clearing, etc.

Author: Duncan Russell