Controlled Burn - Jervis Bay New South Wales

A successful hazard reduction burn took place in Jervis Bay on the weekend Friday 29 July - Sunday 31 July 1994.

A total of 46 A.C.T. Rural Fire Service members took part in the exercise which was carried out in conjuction with the Wreck Bay Volunteers, Jervis Bay National Parks and Shoalhaven Volunteers.

The weekend was a valuable training experience as it presented the opportunity for many new volunteers to experience fire behaviour, fire suppression and fireground operations. A number of volunteers also received tuition and experience in Forward Control operations. The Incident Management Team experienced a trying time in the control room and many valuable lessons were learned.

An area of some 250 hectares was burnt on the Saturday with assistance from an Army helicopter which was used to drop incendiaries.

Perhaps the most interesting aspects of the exercise arose from the weather conditions. We anxiously watched the development of the weather systems for four days prior to the burn. The Met Bureau's computer forecast originally predicted a rain depression forming off the coast near Nowra - in other words a "wash out". However we applied a large grain of salt and decided to go ahead.

On the Saturday the winds were certainly "up". Fortunately the terrain sheltered us from most of the winds, except along the exposed edge bordering the airfield. When the heath finally got the red steer into it, the results were spectacular.

On the Sunday plans were afoot for more burning, but the Bureau issued a "Gale Force Wind Warning" for the land and sea in our area. Even though the terrain would have sheltered us again from the worst of the wind, there are legal implications to ignoring a Warning. Thus no new burns were lit on Sunday. Returning crews felt the full force of the wind while driving back to Canberra.

This has been the fourth hazard reduction burn using the Incident Control System (ICS) principles and it was comforting to see that much has improved from the first trail. Communications remain our biggest problem.

It was clearly demonstrated that the Incident Management Team is most effective when removed directly from the Incident ground and situated a short distance away.

Anita Kulessa (A.C.T Rural Fire Service Training Officer)
and Rick McRae(A.C.T. Rural Fire Service Fire Management Officer)
22 August 1994

Last updated 4 November 2014