PLAN THAT WOULD SAVE OVER 90% OF COSTS
I estimate rapid response/low intensity attack and hazard reduction strategies (see [vi] Packham 2013)
will slash the cost of firefighting and fire destruction by over 90%.
· Bushfire service operational costs could be reduced by over 90% e.g. in NSW alone budgets are
climbing, with the NSW Rural Fire Service going about $90 million over its 2012-2013 $313 million
budget[vii]. In 2013-2014, the NSW RFS budget grew to about $343.1 million. In addition, a large proportion
of the $230 million of the Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Centre goes to bushfire
research when there is already a vast body of unused research showing how to stop the firestorm crisis.
· A significant proportion of consumer insurance costs can be saved e.g. insurance companies pay
a levy that supplies 74% of the NSW RFS budget. This directly affects consumers, as insurance
premiums must pay for bushfire insurance payouts, 74% of bushfire service funding and viable insurance
company profit margins.
· Insurance payouts can be reduced by over 90% e.g. the 2003 NSW and ACT fires alone cost
insurance companies around 0.5 $billion in payouts.
· Rapid response/low intensity attack and hazard reduction strategies can save legal claims for
negligence against bushfire services and state and territory governments e.g. the 2003 fires generated
claims against the NSW Government and the NSW Rural Fire Service of about $400 million. Teams of
some of Australia's best lawyers exhausted plaintiffs financially by prolonging cases. This shrank
total damages/injury claims to around $40 million, but added to victims’ trauma.
· Rapid response/low intensity attack and hazard reduction strategies can also save lost agricultural
productivity from drought, preserve 1000s of kilometers of farm fences and prevent other damage.
Pre-1788, naked Indigenous Australians managed the bush with no boots or even a box of matches.
They taught early settlers these skills and oldtimers still remember a fuel-reduced firestorm-free past that
cost peanuts to manage.
PREDICTABLY, AIR OPERATIONS DON’T WORK & COST
A BOMB (around $20 million to
fight a medium sized firestorm)
It is futile and too dangerous for aircraft to water bomb intense fires fed by
catastrophic fuel loads according to well-tested CSIRO guidelines (see Figure 1
above). CSIRO research shows that in extreme conditions over about 5-8 tonnes
per hectare of fuel will burn so hot water bombing will have no effect and
overhead aircraft may crash.
As well as this heavily evidenced CSIRO research, Commonwealth air safety
legislation and regulations make it unlawful for civil aerial operations in these
conditions. The aircraft were sometimes in mountainous terrain, with
visibility poor due to smoke in turbulence and updrafts created by the
intense fires. A conservative underestimate of the heat of intense conditions is
2,500 1,000-Watt radiators per lineal meter of firefront (or 2,500kW/m).
Notwithstanding life-taking breaches of civil air safety legislation and the futility of these high-risk
manoeuvers, helicopters scoop water and dump it on fires. Fixed wing aircraft, sometimes overloaded
with water tanks on their wings take off to dump water to land again for another load. Many craft lack
the adequate strength in their frames to withstand turbulence, heat and tight manoeuvres. If the craft were
passenger carriers, CASA would criminally prosecute. Only pilots’ skills and remarkable reflexes keep
more from dying. Currently, water bombing directly over fires wastes expenditure and causes pilot
deaths. To be effective water bombing techniques must:
· Comply with air safety legislation.
· Be capable of dousing flames, and therefore occur when fires are burning at low to moderate intensity.
This sometimes requires night flying equipment and night flying credentials because it is at night that
some fires die down enough for aerial operations to be efficient and effective. There are also goggles
and windscreens available that allow visibility in smoke. Water bombing when fires have died down
at night or early morning would prevent repetitive months of futile water bombing in bushfire seasons.
Even more effective is rapid response with water bombing within 30 minutes to an hour after ignition
before fires became intense and therefore unstoppable and illegal to attack.
To protect pilot lives, aircraft construction must comply with Commonwealth air safety legislation and
engineering guidelines. Frames must be strong enough to withstand turbulence and tight manoeuvers -
many craft currently on the firegrounds risk losing wings or tails due to inadequate frame strength.
There are also load guidelines and overloading, which as CASA has occasionally warned the public, can
either pull fixed wing aircraft out of the sky if one wing drops too far below the other, or, wings or tails can
break. The practice of dipping buckets into water in turbulence and smoke is also too dangerous and has
resulted in accidents.
Bush people with memories of a fire-managed past find themselves defenseless and now battle to get back
what they lost. A pattern has emerged of medium sized firestorms costing about $20 million each to fight,
doing $100s of millions of damage and victims rarely able to overcome a tactic of governments using
the best legal teams to prolong cases to exhaust plaintiffs financially.
SUMMARY OF PLAN THAT WOULD SAVE OVER 90% OF CURRENT COSTS
1 – RAPID RESPONSE AT LOCAL LEVELS & LOCAL BRIGADE AUTONOMY
· Locals’ loss of control is a major contributor to the bushfire crisis. If local firefighters with their knowledge of conditions
and terrain attacked dangerous fires rapidly the firestorm crisis would be hugely reversed.
· Local volunteer brigade autonomy must be increased, ensuring mechanisms to remove brigades and members if they
fail to optimise emergency response by non-compliance with new guidelines. (Currently, regulations are in place to
remove volunteer bushfirefighters who go public over the huge and unnecessary risks they face.)
· In the past, locals were responsible for hazard reduction and putting out dangerous fires quickly. Fires were once
successfully put out by persistently tracking a fire for an opportunity to backburn (or light a small fire in front of the
approaching fire to remove fuel between the two fires). A few small acrobatic crop dusting aircraft are usually adequate
to provide water-bombing backup to extinguish the fires’ flames after the backburn reduces flame intensity.
To be effective current water bombing techniques must:
· Comply with air safety legislation.
· Be capable of dousing flames, and therefore occur when fires are burning at low to moderate intensity or use
products capable of extinguishing hotter fires.
· Have night flying and smoke visibility capability.
· Comply with Australian air safety legislation and engineering guidelines. Frames
must be strong enough to withstand turbulence, heat and tight manoeuvers.
As a line of first defence, crop dusting fixed wing aircraft have the stability, frame strength and manoeuvrability to support
local brigade rapid response.
2 - RAPID RESPONSE AT STATE & TERRITORY LEVELS (a reduction from $20 million or more to fight a medium sized
firestorm to $20-50,000. This reduction = 1/4% of current firefighting costs)
As secondary support if a firestorm is still imminent after local rapid response, military turboprop aircraft such as the Hercules
(capability = 16-20 tonnes of water), Caribou (= 4.25 tonnes) or possibly the Antonov (= 80 tonnes) have frames strong enough to
comply with legislation to apply a line of fire suppressants in front of fires and well away from dangers of updrafts, smoke and
turbulence. CASA verification is necessary that the Antonov frame is strong enough. Current risks and huge expenditure would be
removed using a rapid response attack within 30 minutes to an hour after ignition or when fires die down at night or early morning
to extinguishable proportions. These aircraft are also designed to land on rough, small airstrips. There are products that have been
tested, and according to manufacturers, are superior to retardants, which are dropped directly onto fires. Currently, retardants such
as PhosCheck are so toxic they are banned from application near watercourses, which rules them out of general application as
most dangerous fires are on water catchments. Helicopters can also be used, as supplementary support and preferably be military
I designed a strategy for a new suppressant called BlazeTamer38, which the chemist who developed it and my former client both
claim has been shown to put out high intensity fires up to 1,100° C. Suppressants are laid before a fire as a barrier. The
BlazeTamer38 venture failed for my clients because the fire suppressant became the property of Chubb Australasia after an
internal company power struggle. However, I was assured that BlazeTamer38 is capable of solving the current crisis, but
I would need to carefully evaluate it before I could guarantee it. I am in contact with the chemist who developed BlazeTamer38 and
he says that he can develop a superior product. There is one problem facing Blazetamer38 and that is that it loses efficacy
after 10 minutes of being laid on the ground. Its developer claims he can overcome this and other flaws. There are a lot of
similar products to BlazeTamer38 that can also be evaluated to solve the bushfire problem. I was paid to develop a
strategy, but I have no further pecuniary interest in BlazeTamer38. I was impressed with accounts of its capability and think
it well worth allowing me the resources to test Blazetamer38 and other products.
3 - FUEL REDUCTION AT LOCAL, STATE & TERRITORY LEVELS
· Bring in bushfire science experts such as Dr Andrew Sullivan, Roger Underwood, Phil Cheney and David Packham
to advise on strategies, operations and solutions. Currently, these world-leading scientific experts are frozen out. It has
been funding death for academics to go up against national parks and bushfire services and come forward with the truth.
(Currently, researchers telling the truth risk their careers. University lecturers need funding, as do their research students.
A department can collapse financially if it goes up against the powerful national parks and bushfire services that control
· Put in place economical and effective cool burning strategies and methods developed by a. David Packham and Phil
Cheney and bushfire science experts through CSIRO and b. Indigenous Australians. Packham and Cheney developed a
highly successful technique for cool burning by dropping incendiary devices from small aircraft suitable for crop dusting.
· Allow grazing of national parks as these are the biggest bushfire risk. To read about how sheep are achieving
spectacular results in the US please click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-FdSlC5nKk.
· The above strategy is designed for the use of the paid bushfire hierarchy, but as support to local brigades.
4 – IMPROVE FIREFIGHTING GELS, FOAMS ETC
Adopt new fire suppressants and retardants. Developers of new products claim their products have the capability of putting out
fires as hot as Chernobyl, 9/11 and Canberra 2003. If careful scrutiny proves them reliable, these new products would drastically
lower costs and save lives. There are chemists available with the knowledge to develop new and improved products and their
knowledge would also improve bushfire capability.
[vi] Packham, David 2013 Submission No 10 Parliament of New South Wales
Inquiry into the Wambelong Fires
analysis of hazard reduction regimes that will mitigate the escalating firestorm crisis. Packham calculates that about 15% annual
hazard reduction of bush/grassland that present as a risk is needed to reach safe levels of fuel. To maintain this, he estimates 5%
hazard reduction annually.
[vii] Local Government NSW (LGNSW) (2013) NSW Budget 2013/14. Retrieved March 11 2014 from