Rapid action force for rapidly spreading fires

  • Utility vehicles carrying firefighting equipment

Image: Julianne Bryce, Kangaroo Island, SA

University of Tasmania
Vandana Bhagat, PhD Candidate, Centre for Rural Health

Australia is prosperous, with dense forests providing shelter to a large number of varied species of plants and animals. Bushfire is very common throughout the year, spread either due to human negligence or due to natural calamities, which causes enormous loss to the ecosystem and public property.

The impact of bushfires does not stop when the fires stop. The adverse effects of this devastation stay for a long time and even for a lifetime for some people and our planet. People who have lost their farms, livestock and homes get affected not only financially but also mentally.

Although the Australian Government has taken massive steps to control bushfire by adopting and reviewing different policies from time to time, much more has to be done in this regard. There is a great need to understand and incorporate the ways the elders of this country used to control bushfires.

We know that trained firefighters play a vital role in overcoming bushfires, but due to massive outbreaks they are sometimes not able to control the spreading fires. Hence there is a need to establish separate “Rapid Action Force Against Fire” units. RAFAFs are specially meant to overcome bushfire incidents happening during the hot season and to assist the fire brigade in case of need. The strength of RAFAF should be enough to control the fire spreading within the radius of 5 kilometres immediately. Thus, the impact of bushfire will be controlled and minimised.

Other support services should be provided for the mental wellbeing of people affected by bushfires. In Australia, we are lucky enough to have these support services on a large scale, but these need to be promoted at the local level. In many regional areas, people even not aware of these support services and many are not tech-savvy.

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