OPINION: Sensible approach to fire safety important

RECENTLY I was asked about the rain and whether that had driven growth of vegetation in communities and ultimately on grain properties – creating a potential bushfire risk.

It’s a very good question.

As we know, bushfire season is fast approaching.

Many of you may have read or heard about the change to the Fire Danger Rating System across Australia.

The simplification of this system has been welcomed, particularly after utilising old research for decades.

For many years, the grain industry in SA has successfully adopted the Grain Harvest Code of Practice under the Grain Fire Danger Index.

Trust and understanding of this code by graingrowers didn’t happen in months, it took years.

The final calculated number under the GFDI to cease harvesting at 35 took time to become ingrained.

This number considers temperature, relative humidity and wind speed.

Last month, GPSA was advised by the SA Country Fire Service of the adjustment of GFDI 35 to the new Fire Behaviour Index of 40 as the cease harvest figure.

We continue to call for the new Grain Harvest Code of Practice to remain under the former and well-adopted system until after this harvest, giving our graingrowers time to better understand the change to the code.

We want graingrowers and supply chain participants to be fully across the new code before harvest begins.

I received a letter response from the CFS informing GPSA the ‘operations table’ for harvesting, previously released in sticker form, will not be circulated this season as it will be a ‘transitional season’. This is a sensible decision to avoid any confusion this harvest.

But there is still little detail on how authorities will approach a ‘transitional’ season and what this will practically mean for graingrowers.

Most graingrowers do the right thing when it comes to ‘pulling up stumps’ and not harvesting on high Fire Danger Rated days.

GPSA urges all graingrowers to do the right thing during harvest as the last thing anyone wants to see is the years’ hard work lost to preventable fire.

After all, graingrowers and fire should never mix.

By Brad Perry, CEO, Grain Producers SA. This opinion piece was first published in the Stock Journal