Politics, Science/Environment

Firefighter slams ‘outright lies’ about bushfires

A firefighter who has received one of the country’s highest honours for bravery has hit out at misinformation circulating on social media surrounding the current bushfires crisis.

By: Shannon Molloy

Andrew Strunk took to his Facebook page yesterday and, in a post that’s since gone viral, busted some widely spread myths about the fires, their causes and apparent barriers to mitigation.

“First of all, does being a firey give me all the insight to this complex issue? Not even close and I need to make that clear,” Mr Strunk began.

Andrew Strunk busted some widely spread myths about the fires, their causes and apparent barriers to mitigation. Photo / via Facebook
Andrew Strunk busted some widely spread myths about the fires, their causes and apparent barriers to mitigation. Photo / via Facebook

“However I’ve felt a strong need to say something here because I just can’t stomach some of the false science and outright lies being peddled on social media as news or facts.

“No, the Greens haven’t been stopping hazard reduction burns from taking place. We still do them and yes we should absolutely do more of them.”

That’s a sentiment echoed this morning by New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who shot down the common misconception that “green tape” is making hazard reduction harder.

“Our biggest challenge with hazard reduction is the weather and the windows available to do it safely and effectively,” Mr Fitzsimmons said in an interview on Sunrise.

“Sure, there’s environmental and other checks to go through but we streamline those. There’s special legislation to give us clearance and to cut through what would otherwise be a very complex environment.”

How To Stop Fires: Facts Over Fiction

Lies, myths, and disinformation are being spread about hazard reduction burnings. But experts like RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons have set the record straight on the realities and complexities of firefighting. The Government could learn a lot about real leadership from Fitzsimmons.

Posted by GetUp! on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Mr Fitzsimmons said longer and hotter summers โ€” contributed to by climate change โ€” mean the window for hazard reduction burning is shorter each year.

That’s widely accepted among firefighters, including Mr Strunk, who said weather extremes and drought made the jobs of fireys hard.

The official 2018/19 NSWRFS cause of fire figures are reproduced below.

The 2018/19 NSWRFS official cause of fire stats. Arson = 1.3%.

First published at The New Zealand Herald – Wednesday 8 January. See; https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12298981

Similar stories to this can be found herehttps://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-08/fires-misinformation-being-spread-through-social-media/11846434

And here; https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/08/police-contradict-claims-spread-online-exaggerating-arsons-role-in-australian-bushfires and; https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/08/australia-where-lies-and-conspiracy-theories-spread-like-bushfire

And also here too; https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/08/twitter-bots-trolls-australian-bushfires-social-media-disinformation-campaign-false-claims

One last late addition with many hyperlinks; https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-truth-behind-miranda-devines-attack-on-the-greens,13470

From Friday 10 January comes this; https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2020/01/10/news-corp-employee-lashes-bushfire-reporting/


  1. Prarire Rose

    Interesting last link there. I love the reference to “malignant lightweights like Miranda Devine.”

    The only problem is that I think the author is being very unfair to malignant lightweights in general though. Moron-da needs a category all of her own.

  2. Richard McDermott

    I love seeing the boof headed rednecks get shot down by real people. I’ve been sick of the so called experts around Coffs Harbour stating as if gospel that without the Greens we would not have had the bushfires at all, hysterically chanting their mantra to the point where they actually believe the Greens have been sneaking around lighting the fires themselves. Alan Jones and his shock jock mates have a lot to answer for, there are enough dumb people around here as it is given the continuous re-election of the do nothing Nationals without putting out more rubbish on matters they have little other than made up and hearsay evidence. Just because you heard something in a pub or on the radio doesnโ€™t make it correct. Thankfully it seems our children are beginning to see through this ignorance and will put the place back on the right path, eventually.

  3. John Matthews

    Its a culmination of things not just 1 reason
    it is climate change , resources , build up of ground fuels , hazard reduction time frame to which you can do it , drought fire bugs ect ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘

  4. There always has to be scapegoat!!Those goddamn greenies and arsonists..If only lightning strikes could be named and shamed.What is wrong with debate in this place,its so simplistic .Its almost like we are going back in time to the Bjelke Petersen era feeding the chooks and blaming uni students for everything!!.I would expect an inquiry soon into the fires, stacked with coalition ,probably headed by good old Barnaby.Findings will reveal of course too many trees.Solution clear as many trees as possible.Astro turf as much land as possible .Only the pesky koalas ,solution develop eucalytpus veggie burger as alternative to trees .Look for any distractions ,even getting involved against Iran with your buddy.The public has a short attention span

  5. Peter Coppock

    Before we go any further that causes data needs to be revised i.e. miscellaneous other needs clarification 34% is too big a figure for misc.

  6. John Kakoulidis

    Do what you can. RESPECT.

  7. This joker works for the Western Australian Fire Service. He would have no idea how things are done in NSW. Just another person who thinks they know…. Plenty of them out there at the moment.


    Please let the brumbys and Herefords roam free
    Throughout the highlands itโ€™s good for the fuel reduction and in the end keeps everyone that bit safer.

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