Former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW and local firefighter Greg Mullins AO has encouraged Northern Beaches residents to heed the advice of the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and prepare their homes and families now ahead of a potentially serious bushfire season.
Mullins used an appearance at a bushfire season preparation event hosted by Independent MP for Mackellar Dr Sophie Scamps in Belrose last week to inform local residents how serious bushfire seasons have become more frequent and are lengthening. Mullins also advised that the RFS has warned that the Northern Beaches is an area of concern this bushfire season.
“Fire seasons are getting exponentially worse across the country, and the forecast is for a hot and dry spring and summer. The Northern Beaches is a particular concern this year as we haven’t had a major fire for nearly 30 years, while three consecutive La Ninas have fuelled massive growth in grass and vegetation. It’s important we prepare now for what could be a bad summer,” said Mr Mullins.
Mullins urged residents to focus on preparing their properties by clearing flammable materials away from their homes, regularly clearing their roof gutters and having a bushfire plan. He also encouraged residents to understand the new fire danger warning system and to listen to authorities.
“People can do lots of things to make their homes and families safe,” said Mr Mullins. “Many homes catch fire after embers ignite leaves in gutters, so regularly cleaning out your gutters is one of the best things you can do to keep your property safe. People should also speak to their local fire service as they will understand the specific fire threat in your area.”
The town hall event, attended by approximately 200 locals, also saw climate researcher Dr Simon Bradshaw and economist Tim Buckley join Dr Scamps MP. The discussion ranged from the impacts of climate change on wild weather, to the vast economic opportunities that await Australia if we invest in exporting critical minerals and green commodities such as green steel and aluminium.
Climate and Energy analyst Tim Buckley said Australia had a potentially world leading role to play in the decarbonisation of global economy.
“Right now Australia is a ‘petro-state’ and we are one of the top three exporters of fossil fuels in the world. However we are uniquely positioned to become a world leader in the clean economy – if we get the policy settings right,” said Mr Buckley.
“Renewable energy is categorically cheaper than fossil fuel energy. If we fast track investment in renewables and critical mineral mining, Australia could generate hundreds of billions of dollars every year in exports and become one of the world’s leading ‘electro-states’,” said Mr Buckley.
Dr Simon Bradshaw, Research Director at the Climate Council, said climate change was not only impacting bushfire seasons but also leading to more frequent and more dangerous heatwaves.
“Australia’s climate has already warmed around 1.5 degrees, which has increased the number of hot days, heatwaves and shifted rain patterns,” said Dr Bradshaw.
“Heatwaves kill more people every year than all other climate fuelled disasters. Heat also disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable in our communities such as older residents, children and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. It’s important policy makers consider creating heat refuges in our communities, while every one of us has a role to play in checking on our neighbours and loved ones during a heatwave,” said Dr Bradshaw.
Independent MP Dr Sophie Scamps urged locals to heed the advice of authorities while also committing to fighting for more ambitious and urgent action on climate change.
“We are lucky to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, surrounded by national parks and beautiful bushland on the Northern Beaches. However with that beauty comes risk. As we heard from the experts at our bushfire preparation event, the Northern Beaches is at risk of being hit by major bushfires as our climate continues to become more extreme. I urge every resident to heed the advice of our local firefighters to develop a family fire plan and prepare their homes now ahead of summer,” said Dr Scamps.
“The people of Mackellar have consistently told me that tackling climate change is a major priority for them, so I will continue to work with all sides of Parliament to move Australia in a direction that decarbonises our economy while setting us up as a clean energy and green commodity superpower,” said Dr Scamps.
To find out more about how you can prepare your home for bushfire season, visit – www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare.
Media release provided by Dr Sophie Scamps MP, 13th October 2023