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NPAACT Home > News Items > The Canberra 2003 Firestorm: Coroner's Inquest Report

The Canberra 2003 Firestorm: Coroner's Inquest Report


The ACT Coroner released her report into the 2003 firestorm today.  The NPAACT has issued a media release.

The 800 page report is here.  The recommendations on Fuel Management are:

10.2.3 Fuel management

In relation to fuel management, I recommend as follows:

32 that a hazard-reduction program be introduced, involving regular and strategic burning in all areas of the ACT - including the catchment areas - with a view to having fuel-reduced areas in a pattern across the landscape, excluding only small areas of particular ecological or conservation importance
33 that clarification be provided and information be made public in connection with the hazard reduction proposed under the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan for the area designated 'Land Management Zone', which appears to cover about 70 per cent of the ACT landscape and might be excluded from fuel-reduction burning

34 if it is not part of the proposed version 2 of the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan, that the plan be revised to provide for a fuel-reduction burning regime in the 'Land Management Zone' that is equivalent to that contemplated for the corridors designated as the 'Landscape Division Zone' and that the regime involve burning areas in rotation to achieve an appropriately varying fire age spectrum across the entire landscape

35 that responsibility for fuel management lie with the land management agency that controls the area and that land managers be given authority to implement prescribed fuel-reduction bums within their area

36 that prescribed burning operations be conducted according to agreed standard burning prescriptions

37 that the Emergency Services Agency have authority over the land management agencies and other landholders in order to implement preparedness and prevention measures including fuel-reduction works where there are failures in compliance

38 that a program be implemented to ensure that existing fire tracks and trails are cleared and accessible at all times and that a network of additional fire trails be established so as to allow direct fire suppression operations without undue delay in the event of a wildfire

39 that it be a matter of policy and practice that the relevant land management agency is responsible for the initial response to any fire or fires on the land under its care or management-within the overall operational response of the ACT Rural Fire Service

40 that the policy and practice just recommended be the subject of a memorandum of understanding between the Emergency Services Agency and the Department of Territory and Municipal Services (previously the Department of Urban Services) or other relevant department or agency, so as to ensure that the land management agency on whose land a fire starts has responsibility to respond immediately to that fire in accordance with the applicable standards for weight of response.  Further, the land management agency should be responsible for efforts to suppress fire until such time as it becomes clear that the suppression task is beyond the capacity of the agency, at which point the ACT Rural Fire Service should assume direct responsibility for coordinating the ongoing response

41 that public land management agencies ensure that their senior personnel have appropriate experience in fire management and are provided with adequate resources and suitably experienced and trained staff to effectively implement fire management programs.

The Canberra Firestorm: Inquests and Inquiry into Four Deaths and Four Fires between 8 and 18 January 2003   Pages 218/219


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