February 8, 2021
Six Nanango rural fire brigades – and the communities they serve – have received a welcome boost thanks to Nanango’s Heritage Bank.
Each brigade recently received a cheque of up to $10,000 to buy fire-fighting equipment.
Heritage Nanango Community Funding treasurer Jane Hodgkinson said the 2020 bushfires which devastated parts of eastern Australia had underlined just how much the community depended on the efforts of volunteer firefighters.
“We decided to give local brigades an opportunity to receive a donation to show our support,” Jane said.
“We asked them to tell us what equipment they needed, up to a maximum of $10,000 per brigade,” Jane said.
The cheques, which totalled $56,396, enabled the Bunya Mountains, East Nanango, Booie Rise, Bullcamp, Kunioon-Hodgleigh and Sandy Ridges brigades to get some basic equipment, including a water tank and a trailer.
But one – the Bunya Mountains Rural Fire Brigade – is now testing a new tool that could revolutionise the activities of local brigades.
Bunya Mountains RFB asked Heritage for a $7500 grant to buy a thermal imaging camera.
Technical officer Peter Taylor believes the device is the first of its kind in the region. It will allow brigade members to quickly scan a fire ground for hidden hot spots that have the potential to reignite if they are not put out.
At present, South Burnett’s rural firies spend many hours – and often, several days – patrolling a fireground after a major blaze to ensure a bushfire has been completely extinguished.
Peter said a recent blaze near the Bunya Mountains illustrated why firefighters put so much time into checking fire grounds.
A large bushfire had blackened a wide area around the foothills of the mountains. After it was put out volunteers patrolled the area for the following four days to ensure it had been completely extinguished.
What they did not know was that a turkey nest had a clump of hot coals smouldering at its base.
When a wind blew up after firefighters left, the coals were enough to reignite the bushfire.
Peter, who was an electronics technician before he joined the Bunya Mountains brigade, said a thermal imaging camera would have detected the turkey nest issue.
The hand-held camera measures heat and is able to detect hot spots which are invisible to the naked eye.
If the Bunya Mountains Brigade’s trial proves as successful as Peter hopes it will be, he believe thermal imaging cameras could become a regular item for many rural fire brigades.