The EMPIRICISTS at Forest Fire Victoria

Empirical knowledge is gained from experience fine-tuned by trial and error. The early foresters, like other settlers from verdant Europe, had no experience of a forest fire. With the establishment of forest services in each State, individuals contributed to a knowledge bank about bushfire before the dawn of forest fire science in the late 1950s. This section is dedicated to the contributions of the empiricists, whose insights retain their validity.

H J Lyne

H J Lyne

H J Lyne, District Forester Taree, wrote on the benefits of regular burning and firebreaks in an article titled Forest Fires in Coastal Areas published in The Australian Forestry Journal, Vol 1, No 3, July 1918. This was followed up by a couple of responses published in the following Journal, one supporting and the other questioning the value of firebreaks.

– Forest Fires in Coastal Areas

– Responses

L B Stretton

The eminent jurist Leonard B Stretton was appointed Royal Commissioner to inquire into the 1939 bushfires. His sharp insights and sound logic formed the basis for a new era of fire management in Victoria. In the Introduction to his report to Parliament he provides a graphic account of a high-intensity forest fire in a eucalypt forest.

– Introduction

– Full Report

Leonard B Stretton

State Library of Victoria

Mervyn Bill

RAAF Westland Wapitis, Wikipedia

Mervyn Bill

Mervyn Bill, Chief Draftsman of the Forests Commission gives an account of aerial fire patrols before the second world war in his oral evidence to Judge Stretton’s Royal Commission – 1939. A comprehensive article on Aerial firefighting and forestry in southern Australia can be found on Wikipedia.

– Transcript

– Wikipedia article

Alfred O Lawrence

Alfred Oscar Lawrence was responsible for implementing Stretton’s recommendations on public land in Victoria after the 1939 fires. In his opening address to the Fire Ecology Symposium at Monash University in 1969 as Forests Commission Chairman and in the twilight of his career, he implores staff not to let our forests and parks be destroyed by fear of criticism or lack of faith in technology.

– Opening Address

Alfred O Lawrence

Alpine Ash, Gibb Range, 21 Feb 2003

Ted Gill

Ted Gill

In his keynote address to senior officers at the Forests Commission Fire Protection School at Marysville in 1963, E D (Ted) Gill, then Chief, Division of Forest Protection, makes a case for fuel reduction on public land close to private property.

– Suspected Adjoining Landholder

Athol Hodgson

Athol Hodgson provided a submission on managing hazardous fuels in native forests and the implications for fire control to the House Select Committee on Australian Bushfires following the 2002/03 fire season in Victoria.

– Submission

Athol Hodgson

Ovens, NE Victoria, 21 Jan 2003

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