The ACT’s toughest bushfire season since 2003 has officially been declared over by the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA).
The 2019/20 bushfire season posed a number of challenges for the ESA ACT and included 24 Total Fire Ban days. Traditionally the ACT has six Total Fire Ban days throughout a bushfire season.
The official 2019-20 bushfire season for the ACT began on 1 October 2019 and concluded on Tuesday 31 March.
ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said there were several notable achievements during the bushfire season, including:
- Quickly responding to and extinguishing the first significant bush and grass fire of the season, the Beard Fire that was declared out 30 January.
- Containing and extinguishing the Orroral Valley Fire, ensuring no lives or properties were lost. After 40 days of continuous firefighting The Orroral Valley fire was declared out on 27 February.
- Deployment of over 2,160 ACT personnel who supported colleagues and communities in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.
Mr Gentleman also acknowledged the efforts of simultaneously managing bushfire and hail damage responses following Canberra’s worst ever hailstorm on 20 January.
“I thank [ESA] Commissioner [Georgeina] Whelan and all the staff across the ACT involved in keeping Canberra safe during bushfire, smoke haze, hailstorms and heat waves, culminating in the devastating Orroral Valley fire,” Minister Gentleman said.
“Frontline firefighting efforts protected Canberra homes along with a number of cultural and heritage assets assisted by aerial support including the ACT’s Specialist Intelligence Gathering (SIG) Helicopter and Very Large Air Tanker.
“The ACT was faced with the driest conditions on record that saw strong winds, thick dust and smoke, hazardous air quality and the hottest day on record reaching 44 degrees (Celsius) – conditions proved volatile and challenging for firefighters.”
ESA are undertaking an after-action review to consider what improvements can be made to bushfire preparedness and responses in preparation for the 2020-21 bushfire season.
Fire permits will no longer be required for rural land holders wishing to conduct burns. Land holders are still asked to notify authorities if they plan to conduct burns. Penalties apply if fires are left unattended or escape containment.
For more information on the ACT Emergency Services Agency, visit esa.act.gov.au
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