By: ROGER UNDERWOOD
Water Bombing and Magic Bullets
If press releases and photo ops could put out fires, no bush town would ever again need to fear the flames of summer. The sad and simple fact, however, is that they achieve little at enormous cost. Is it any wonder empire-building bureaucrats love them so?
...Remembering this reminded me of the words of Stephen Pyne, the world’s foremost bushfire historian and commentator:
“Air tankers are primarily political theatre, and only secondarily part of fire control. They have their place. But they dislodge attention from truly effective measures”.
Jerry Williams, probably the most respected forest fire manager in the USA has also commented on this issue:
“The airtanker has become a symbol in the public’s (and politician’s) minds. At a meeting two years ago, a former hotshot [bushfire] superintendent was asked, based on his long experience, what was the effectiveness of airtankers? As I remember, he said, generously, less than 30%. That fits with my experience”...