Recent fires in Canterbury and earlier in the year in South Australia, have thrown up important lessons in firemanship. Direct attack on a wildfire, if it is to be done with a reasonable margin of safety needs to be conducted from a safe anchor point – somewhere where there is no risk of a fire either getting in behind fire fighters or impacting them full on. The standard practice is to enter the fire ground from the base of the fire – The safe anchor point and working up the flanks from the black out to the flame flanks. This “Base and Chase” technique allows fire fighters safe access to a safety zone; the burnt-out area of the fire. Keeping “One Foot in the Black” allows a safe direct attack because you are not working from the fuel side of the flame front and hence you are not part of the fuel complex…… Here are some examples:
I have circulated these examples because we in Marlborough have had a run of fires over the last 3 years, often in light flashy fuels with strong, erratic winds and I have no wish to be working through the aftermath and consequences of a burn-over incident with a crew, a brigade or indeed the families and loved ones of a burns victim.