California fires vs Australia

As wildfires sweep across California, we were struck by this infographic put up by Cal Fire.

While we will investigate more deeply in coming days, we were struck by several things compared to Australia’s NSW RFS.

The first is fire engines. Cal Fire claims to have 343. NSW RFS has 3,883. Although aerial bombing seems a preferred method in California.

Cal Fire employs 6,100 full time staff. NSWRFS 936.

Cal Fire has 2,600 seasonal staff, 3,500 inmates, wards and conservation members and 600 volunteers. NSWRFS has 71,000 volunteers.

Cal Fire operates on a budget of US$2.1bn. NSWRFS runs on US$405m.

Cal Fire attended 5,750 wildfire incidents while NSWRFS attended 9,675 bushfires in 2018/19.

Cal Fire staged prescribed burn offs of around 19,000 acres in 2017/18. NSWRFS conducted 469,500 acres of burn off in the last recorded year. In NSW’s case, this wasn’t enough.

So before the “climate change” experts start blaming Mother Nature for California’s wildfires, a quick glance at the stats shows that NSWRFS were doing far more with less. Despite that, the Royal Commission has exposed that nowhere near enough forest fuel was being managed which led to the uncontrollable fires experienced late last year. Poor administration is a feature too.

We will endeavor to do a more comprehensive look at the stats to ensure consistency in methodology.

However we implore people to look at a report we wrote discussing climate change by the fire services themselves which goes a long way in proving what we already knew. Poor fuel load management and arson remain the biggest issues.

As ever, we don’t disparage the work of the fire fighters but question the management. In Australia, one volunteer claimed the administration acts like a mafia.

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