Expert warns of rising fire danger

TASMANIA’S bushfire season will be longer, stronger and potentially more deadly due to climate change, an expert has warned.

Chief Fire Officer Mike Brown and guest speaker Professor Nathan Bindoff at the Tasmania Fire Service State conference.

Chief Fire Officer Mike Brown and guest speaker Professor Nathan Bindoff at the Tasmania Fire Service State conference.

Professor Nathan Bindoff from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies discussed the projections with delegates at yesterday’s Tasmania Fire Service 2014 State Conference in Prospect.

According to Professor Bindoff there would be a 75 per cent increase in total fire ban days during summer and a 250 per cent hike in very high fire danger in the spring come 2100.

While 85 years maybe a long time off, the academic said the risk was increasing about 20per cent each decade.

‘‘We’ve worked out that fire season will be longer it will advance in spring and be much stronger in summer,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s about doubling if you think about the area that is at total fire ban levels.

‘‘The challenge to authorities is to think how they would respond to those changes.’’

Emergency Management Minister Rene Hidding said the state government was taking the reality seriously.

‘‘The government has taken an aggressive new policy stance that recognises fire is inevitable in the Tasmanian landscape and that strategic fuel reduction burns are necessary to protect property and lives,’’ he said.

Mr Hidding, whose government abolished the climate change portfolio and council, would not say if he believed in climate change, but stated Professor Bindoff had ‘‘made a strong case that [it] is an undeniable fact.’’

‘‘Which highlights the need to reduce fuel loads through our $28million fuel reduction policy,’’ he said.

Asked about his projections Professor Bindoff said he believed they were robust given the growing trend of increased fire dangers. He said these dangers had increased by 13 per cent since the 1980s.

Chief Fire Officer Mike Brown said the fire service had seen a fair amount of evidence of climate change in recent years.

‘‘We do take it seriously and we do know that the number of days of high fire danger are worse or increasing [and] we know the severity of fires are increasing,’’ he said.

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