As Fire Danger Season approaches, and with a hazardous fuel load posing significant risk, South Australia Police have urged extreme vigilance at the official launch of Operation NOMAD.
The annual Operation targets the twin threats of arson and fires ignited by reckless or negligent human behaviour.
Police will roll out various proactive strategies throughout Fire Danger Season, including the provision of highly-visible patrols in fire prone regions, community engagement initiatives, and active monitoring of would-be arsonists.
Assistant Commissioner Noel Bamford says individuals and groups taking to the great outdoors should be especially cautious, and remember that a single spark can fly.
“Police will actively engage with approximately 88 people who have been identified as posing a high or significant risk.
“Of 884 NOMAD incidents during the 2017/18 Fire Danger Season, 221 were classed as deliberate or suspicious.
“We can reduce the potential for malicious or deliberately-lit fires via close scrutiny and ongoing contact with identified would-be arsonists.
“We still need assistance from the general public in preventing fires caused by recklessness, or basic negligence.
“In our climate, a small fire can grow out of control at alarming speed.
“A cigarette butt carelessly discarded, a vehicle thoughtlessly parked in dry grass, or electrical equipment used with inadequate care can rapidly spark a devastating fire.
“Be vigilant, and exercise commonsense. It may spare your property, or even your life.”
Police are imploring members of the public to report suspicious behaviour, including individuals and vehicles that appear out of place.
“Arsonists are known to practice igniting small fires, before lighting larger, more destructive fires.”
“If you observe signs of a burnt out spot fire, no matter how insignificant it might appear, report it immediately to Police on 131 444.”
“Whether you’re out for a walk or a country drive, pay attention to what’s happening around you.
“Prevention is our best strategy to combat the threat of arson.
“We’re relying on you to be our eyes and ears. Remember, bushfires start when we stop paying attention.”
CFS Assistant Chief Officer Daniel Austin says prevention is the best strategy to combat the threat of unnecessary fires.
“CFS volunteers are always on standby to help protect the community from bushfire, however the last thing we want is for our firefighters to be putting their lives in danger from a fires which can be avoided.
“In the right conditions, reckless and irresponsible behaviour can have devastating impacts on the community.
“The Fire Danger Season is just around the corner and while we encourage people to undertake necessary preparation for the season, we also remind them to be careful when mowing, slashing and burning materials to have water on site to stop any fires which may start.”
Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) Commander of Community Safety, Phil Crossley says Operation Nomad is a positive initiative that reduces the potential for reckless, negligent or deliberate fires.
“Combined with community support, Operation Nomad is a powerful tool to prevent significant fires. Together with the CFS, the MFS supports SAPOL’s call for members of the public to be vigilant and report any concerning behaviour or signs of fires to the Police on 131444”, says Commander Crossley.
Minister Wingard adds that anyone caught lighting fires will face the full force of the law. “My message to idiots who think it’s fun to deliberately light a fire and cause destruction to our state, the police will find you and you will be dealt with,” Minister Wingard said.
Operation NOMAD runs until the conclusion of the Fire Danger Season on 31 May, 2019.
Statistics for Operation NOMAD 2017/18
- 95 Persons of Interest were monitored by Operation NOMAD in the 17/18 FDS.
- For the 2018/2019 Fire Danger Season (FDS) there are 88 Persons of Interest.
Arrests, reports and fines:
- 29 people apprehended from 17 offences (12 arrests and 15 reports).
- 105 expiation notices issued,
- 18 cautions and 60 fines for lighting or maintaining a fire in the open during the
- Fire Danger Season.
- 2 cautions and 2 fines for dropping or throwing a burning object or material from a vehicle.
A total of 884 Nomad fire incidents:
- 91 deliberate incidents
- 130 suspicious incidents
- 72 undetermined incidents
- 551 non-suspicious incidents
- 10 apprehensions were for deliberate or reckless acts such as lighting a fire in scrub or a paddock.
- 19 apprehensions related to lighting or maintaining a fire during total Fire Ban or during the FDS rather than deliberate or reckless acts to cause a bushfire or commit arson.
The average age of offenders was 33 years.
Of the 551 non-suspicious fire incident reports causes included:
- Farm Machinery (100)
- Lightning Strikes (44)
- Mechanical Breakdown (59)
Report suspicious behaviour to Police on 131 444, or call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.
Be alert to the tell-tale signs of arsonist activity, including:
- People acting unusually, or wearing unusual clothing that appears out of place, e.g. not dressed for a trail walk, looking nervous when you pass by.
- If something or someone makes you stop and wonder what’s going on, inform Police via 131 444. Try to recall identifying characteristics, including their age, gender, height, build, hair colour and details of their clothing.
- If a vehicle or driver just doesn’t fit, phone 131 444, providing as much detail as possible, including the vehicle’s registration number, make, model, colour and any distinguishing features, e.g. registration number, make, model, colour and any distinguishing features (such as dents or stickers).
- Always report a break-in and the theft of any flammable liquids, chemicals or products from sheds, garages and yards to SA Police. Be sure to secure those items in a locked shed.
- Business owners with suspicions about any person purchasing fire-lighting equipment, quantities of flammable liquids, or making multiple purchases of this nature during a short period of time, are encouraged to note the customer’s physical particulars, vehicle details and report their suspicions via 131 444.
Look out for people behaving in a reckless or negligent manner, including:
- Not extinguishing a cigarette completely.
- Lighting a BBQ on a total fire ban day and not maintaining complete control.
- Conducting a burn-off and not taking the proper precautions or paying sufficient
- Using poorly-serviced farm machinery or equipment.
- Playing with fireworks, including sparklers, on a Fire Ban day.
- Lighting a campfire in a forest/national park during the Fire Ban season.
Prevention is the best solution:
- Book a SA Police arson-prevention presentation for your High School or community group via your local police station.
- Get involved in a Neighbourhood Watch or Rural Watch program to assist your immediate community, and to learn more about safe-guarding your property from the threat of bushfires.
- For further information on bushfires, safety and prevention, visit http://www.cfs.sa.gov.au/site/home.jsp