Former Fire Chief inflames the climate debate

Greg Mullins, the former chief of NSW Fire and Rescue said today, “Just a 1 degree C temperature rise has meant the extremes are far more extreme, and it is placing lives at risk, including firefighters…Climate change has supercharged the bushfire problem.”

CM could not hope to hold a flame (no pun intended) to his knowledge of fire behavior but why does the WA Government’s own fire service website, Bushfire Front (BFF) contradict him,

Compared to slope, wind strength, fuel quantity and dryness, temperature is an insignificant driver of fire behaviour. Experienced firefighters do not fear a 40-degree day per se. This is because even on a hot day, a fire in one or two-year old fuel can be controlled; on the same day a fire in 20-year old fuels with high winds would usually be unstoppable.”

One of them must be right. Could it be that Mullin’s personal beliefs about climate change are a factor? After all he serves as an author for the Climate Council.

Mullins also said that ” We saw it coming. We tried to warn the government.”

Indeed BFF notes clearly,

““Large wildfires are inevitable”

This statement is, to put it politely, bosh. Large wildfires can only occur when there is a combination, at the same time, of three things:

• an ignition source,

• severe fire weather and,

• a large contiguous accumulation of fuel.

Remove any of these three and you cannot have a large wildfire (= megafire).

We obviously can’t control the weather, nor can we hope to eliminate all possible avenues of ignition. The only factor we can control is the large contiguous accumulations of fuel. Therefore, broadscale fuel reduction burning is the only defence we have against large wildfires. This will not prevent fires occurring, but it will ensure fires are less intense, are easier and safer to control and will do less damage.

Does it work? Yes it does, as has been shown many times, over many years, by the experience of Western Australian forest managers. The “proof of the pudding” is the incidence of large wildfires in Western Australian forests over the last 50 years. There were a number of very large fires in Western Australian forests from 1900 to 1960, but after the 1961 Dwellingup fire disaster, the wide-scale fuel reduction program carried out by the then Forests Department, ensured that the fuel accumulation was well controlled. The graph below demonstrates this very clearly. It was only after the burning program gradually fell away following a diversion of resources away from forest areas, that the area of wildfires began to climb again after about 1990.

How is it that so many of these fires have been started by arsonists? A 16-yo has been alleged to have started fires in central Queensland. Johannes Leak’s cartoon was absolutely on the money.

Even assuming Australia pandered to Mullins and went zero carbon emissions tomorrow, could he guarantee that the bushfires would slow or end? Even though Australia is such a tiny contributor to global CO2 emissions? Could he show the science behind his beliefs on fires and the link to climate change even though 85% are deliberately, suspiciously or accidentally lit?

Of course the climate alarmists immediately endorse his words because he is a firefighter. Although are his words on climate change anymore relevant than those of the AMA?

Maybe we should reflect on the politics within the upper echelons of the fire services? Not so much the rank and file front line fire fighters but the bureaucrats who make daft decisions such as buying a Boeing 737 fire-bomber which can only be used at 4 airports rendering it highly inflexible (as much as it’s a great political sales point) or a military helicopter which spends 5hrs in maintenance for every hour it is in the field working. Or replacing 1yo trucks with brand new ones because records are poorly kept?

Nope, just blame climate change for it. Get out of jail free card for everything.

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