GPSA calls for delay on new fire code as harvest looms

The South Australian Country Fire Service (SACFS) is being urged by Grain Producers SA (GPSA) to delay the transition to a new Harvest Code of Practice (Code) with the grain harvest just weeks away from starting.

GPSA Chief Executive Officer Brad Perry said he has written to the SACFS seeking to delay the roll-out of the new Code until after the coming harvest due to the short notice for grain producers.

“GPSA understands the Grain Harvesting Operations Table will change from the Grassland Fire Danger Index (GFDI) to a new Grassland Fire Behaviour Index (GFBI),” said Mr Perry.

“We support the science and research behind the nation-wide Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS) review; however, we hold concerns about the short time frame SACFS has to inform industry about the adjustment from the GFDI of 35 to GFBI of 40, particularly with the potential for an early start to harvest in some regions.

“With the current understanding of the GFDI, GPSA believes it is too risky to head into harvest underprepared and have some grain producers understanding the new index, while others are still using the former version.

“While the transition to the new AFDRS has been years in the making with GPSA’s consultation, we would caution against rushing implementation of the new Code for what is set to be an extremely busy harvest period.

“We have made the SACFS fully aware of our concerns about the lateness of changing the Code prior to the coming grain harvest but the immediate roll-out appears to be going ahead.

“The transition to a new Code is not something that should be rushed and we believe an education campaign needs to start a lot earlier than September prior to the fire season and harvest.

“GPSA would support SACFS to roll-out the new Code guidelines following the coming harvest and provide a strong communication and education campaign early in 2023.

“This would allow time for clear communications to industry and for all weather station operators, for example, to change their equations and grain producers to adequately learn the new calculation.”

Grain Producers SA is the peak industry body representing the 4,500 grain farming businesses in South Australia.