Fire lighting in Australia
AUSTRALIAN fire-lighters come in six colours — yellow, black, white, blood red, dark green and light green. All are relevant to bushfires and forest management.
“Yellow” is the fire-lighter that has been with us forever. It is the yellow flash of lightning which has always ignited the Australian bush. We’re dreaming to think we can lock yellow fire out of parks, forests and heritage areas. But good forest management can reduce the ferocity and destruction of lightning-strike fires.
“Black” fire-lighters came with the First Australians. Without matches or tinder boxes they probably captured the fire genie from a lightning fire. Or they carried it here on clay hearths on the floor of their canoes. They valued this magic tool for warmth, cooking, insect control, vegetation clearing, animal trapping and fighting enemies. Some also learned how to light fires using heat generated by friction, but this was a slow, laborious process and it was far easier to preserve and carry fire in a burning firestick.
To keep these sticks alight or to light a new one as they travelled, nomadic parties on the plains and deserts renewed them periodically by setting fire to a clump of dry vegetation. Then they moved on. They lit fires for many reasons, anywhere at any time. They tried to keep out of the way of fires, and were known to redirect mild grassland fires but never tried to put them out. What should we do?
First, ban the defective darkgreen fire-lighters, jail arsonists caught using blood-red fire-lighters for thrills or malevolence, and learn to live with yellow lightning strike fires.
Second, mandate the use of the light-green fire-lighter – an improved version of the black and white models used by aboriginals and squatters. Use them to remove fuel load with cool season burning. And when fire comes, use them to fight fire with fire.
Give light-green lighters to all practical foresters, landowners, fire wardens and local bushfire managers – they will safely abolish the dark-green nightmare of massive wildfires.
With so much land burnt, now is the perfect time to make sure it does not happen again in those areas. Kick out the bureaucrats and the deep greens and put rangers, foresters, property owners and local fire wardens in charge. Viv Forbes
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