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Fire fighting green team

Steve Heggie (Healthy Landscape Manager)
Published 27 Oct 2016 by Steve Heggie (Healthy Landscape Manager)

Bunuba Rangers attended the recent Kimberley mega wildfire, which has burnt over 1.5 million ha of remote county across the indigenous protected areas (IPAs) and pastoral properties in the western Kimberley.

Drawing on the strength of the Kimberley Ranger Network there was a massive indigenous ranger group response and attendance at the fire.

The Kimberley Land Council (KLC) coordinated the response from the Gibb River Aboriginal community Station, focussing efforts on reducing the fire's impact on IPA Carbon Farming projects and on high conservation areas.

Bunuba Rangers working independently of the KLC were flown into the fire and operated as a strike team, helicoptered into hot spots to carry out day and overnight suppression and back-burning operations. This was the rangers' first time undertaking this sort of fire fighting and put their training to good effect.

Working in exhausting 43ºC temperatures, they operated at a high level, seeing it as a huge opportunity and learning experience for all involved.

The cross-agency cooperation between the state fire service, emergency services, KLC ranger groups and local pastoralists was recognised by all as a game changer. Debriefing is underway already and there’s little doubt future wildfire events in this remote area will see a much more coordinated and strategic response enhanced by the lessons learnt this time around.

The Bush Heritage Australia / Bunuba partnership and the value of our investment in the Bunuba Ranger Team capacity building was clearly on display.

Together we were quickly nicknamed the Green Team. The Bush Heritage and Bunuba logos on our work shirts resulted in the partnership being recognised across the fire line.

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