Kuttabul resident Grant Howard has organised a community fire forum to raise awareness of fire safety in the region.
Kuttabul resident Grant Howard has organised a community fire forum to raise awareness of fire safety in the region. Contributed

’Immature and naive’ thinking endangering region

WHEN fire broke out on Grant Howard's Kuttabul cattle property, burning more than four hectares of grassland, he brushed it off as a bit of bad luck.

But almost a decade after the incident, and in the harsh light of last November's fires, Mr Howard said "that was an immature and naive way to think".

The former New South Wales farmer said he was shocked by a pattern of poor fire prevention he witnessed in the North Queensland community.

Mr Howard said he had heard of fireys trying to protect homes surrounded by guinea grass almost two metres high, LPG gas bottles and old machinery - an explosive mix of fire accelerants.

After talking to other residents in the region, Mr Howard said there was "very little knowledge around interpreting fire risk".

As part of his mission to break this cycle of confusion he has organised a community fire meeting this Saturday at Kuttabul Hall.

He said the meeting would allow residents to speak with experts, including Australia Institute principle adviser Mark Ogge, Reef Catchment bushfire officer Aaron Regan and Rural Fire Service area director Andrew Houley.

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As experts warn that the region could face increasingly more severe fire seasons, Mr Howard said the community needed to re-evaluate their risk.

In July the independent Inspector-General Emergency Management's 2018 Queensland Bushfires Review warned climate variability was turning regions like Mackay into bushfire territory.

"Locals told me they used to celebrate Christmas with muddy boots, but things are changing … The rainfall patterns are out of whack" Mr Howard said.

"At the end of the day we do need to be more sensible."

Kuttabul Community Fire Forum: From 2-4pm Saturday, October 26 at Kuttabul Hall, attached to Kuttabul Hotel.