Face of firefighting on Gold Coast changing due to climate change

Face of firefighting on Gold Coast changing due to climate change

By Denis Doherty, Gold Coast Sun June 30, 2016



A generation of firefighting knowledge will be lost, thanks to climate change.

That’s the view of former Mudgeeraba Rural Fire Brigade first officer Steve Davis, who said the area’s changing climate means that everything this generation of firefighters had learnt about their craft would be of no use to the next wave of fireys.

“Fire is unpredictable anyway,” Mr Davis said.

“We have experience and we might know a particular area and how a fire should behave in that area but even now you can’t tell what will happen with the weather.

“Now, with the extra unpredictability of weather due to climate change we don’t know what will happen in the future.

“We won’t be able to rely on some of the knowledge we have built. That’s the worry – that fires won’t ­behave the way we expect them to.”

The 24-year veteran of the rural fire brigade said Queensland’s ­relatively high humidity and the ­nature of the bush meant it was ­unlikely the Gold Coast would face the type of disastrous bushfires that regularly raged in southern states.

However, he warned wetter summers could help build fuel in fire-prone areas, which would come at a time when the Coast’s urban areas were starting to impinge on bushland.

“As the population increases on the Gold Coast people are pushing into the hinterland and living in places that are getting, and going to get, more fire prone,” he said.

“I see people moving from suburbia into the bush and they don’t have much of an idea of the dangers.”

He said the potential changes was a topic of conversation within rural fire brigades.

The issue will be one of many raised at the Gold Coast Climate Change for Good Conference from July 1-2, when 12 speakers and 25 workshops talk of the positive opportunities that tackling climate change brings.

Griffith Climate Change Response Program director Professor Brendan Mackey, who will also be part of the conference, said world leaders had made their commitment to climate change and the community was ready to provide solutions for the Gold Coast.

Conference convener Lois Levy said everyone knew the doom and gloom surrounding global warming but it was equally important to recognise any major social change also meant opportunities.

“Hope motivates people and we all want to engage in this transition to a carbon neutral world,” she said.