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Fire and orchards

It is amazing just how many callouts volunteer bushfire brigades get to fires in mango orchards, often started in the orchard by a slasher cutting long dry grass, by a carelessly discarded cigarette butt, or by an unwatched pile of burning logs or rubbish.

Other fires that start external to the orchard cause a lot of damage due to the unkempt overgrown condition, with grasses sometimes as high as the trees.

Volunteer fire fighters sometimes cop a mouthful of abuse from irate orchard owners because they have failed to save their trees from burning. At one orchard we were threatened with being sued because trees in wet swampy ground burnt due to lack of access.

Because of people who refuse to accept responsibility for their own inaction a lot of firies carry cameras in their GFU’s to take photographic evidence of the state of these orchards. Have a good look at the photos on this page.

Fire protection is the responsibility of the land owner, not of unpaid volunteer fire fighters.

If you are going to put in a lot of time, effort and expense to establish an orchard it only makes sense to put in the extra effort to make it fire safe.

A lot of people plant mango trees in seasonally swampy ground. If you can’t get access with your tractor and slasher, neither can heavy fire fighting vehicles. The grass often burns quite well while the ground is still wet and boggy.

If slashing is too difficult you should consider other methods to control the grasses, such as herbicides.

The safety of fire fighters is our prime consideration. In the past we have been withdrawn from fiercely burning gamba grass infested orchards and watched them burn. We will not put ourselves in danger for people too “busy” to make their orchards fire safe.