Top End fire managers cautiously optimistic this fire season shaping up to be one of the better years on record

Date: Apr 5, 2021

Publication Type: Blog

Subject: Caring for Country

The recent 2019-20 North Australia fire season was deemed by researchers from Charles Darwin University to be one of the better seasons on record, however, a number of new challenges have been identified by fire managers working across the Top End.

Thamarrur Rangers.

In a presentation to the 2021 North Australia Savanna Fire Forum, Fire Managers in the NT have highlighted some of the challenges of a changing climate while providing an overview of the 2019-20 North Australia fire season.

In a panel session held on 9 February, representatives from Bushfires NT, Warddeken Rangers, Thamarrurr and Kakadu National Park, told of how a declining wet season has led to longer burning seasons, and the need to increase the size and extent of fire breaks to combat changing conditions.

Mamardawerre Ranger Coordinator, Torsten Unnasch, from Warddeken Rangers said while a declining wet season has meant less fuel for fires, it has resulted in earlier curing, and therefore provides for a longer fire season.

Despite these new challenges, Warddeken has used the previous fire season as an opportunity to build their capacity to better manage future fire seasons and have been training and setting up Daluk (womens) firefighter teams.

Jaemie Page and Uriah Crocombe from the Thamarrurr Rangers told Fire Forum attendees that they also used the recent fire season to further their training programs, develop new partnerships, and better equip for the upcoming fire season.

Thamarrurr Rangers worked closely with the Mimal Rangers in the previous fire season, and helped to train up rangers to use a variety of equipment that can help to assist in managing fires. Partnerships like the one between Thamarrurr and Mimal have also been identified as a vital resource in managing future fire seasons.

In a broader overview of the 2019-20 Northern Australia Fire season, Dr Rohan Fisher, from the Darwin Centre for Bushfire Research, summarised the 2019-20 North Australia fire season as one of the better years on record.

Dr Fisher told attendees at the 2021 North Australia Savanna Fire Forum that despite the annual changes in weather and a growing need to be adaptable in a changing climate, the 2021 North Australia fire season is shaping up to be a good year as well.

The Darwin Centre for Bushfire Research has also introduced new tools for the North Australian Fire Information (NAFI) service, including a Fire Information app, which helps to provide accurate and timely fire information to users across Northern Australia and the Central Desert, and which will greatly assist with managing fires in the upcoming fire season.