Controlling Vegetation Using the Drip Torch
The drip torch is the modern version of the torches Aboriginal People used to make from the bark of the tea tree, which was then used in the process of controlled burning.
Australia is a land of extremes – at any point in time parts of the country will be in severe drought, while other parts may experience disastrous flooding, with areas of equilibrium in between these two extremes. This is our reality.
We can live with this, however, provided that we learn from the lessons of the past, and we develop and put in place risk mitigation strategies that help avoid the tragic loss of life, livestock, wildlife and the destruction of property and livelihoods.
In very recent memory, one thing the past summer taught many of us is that landholders, governments, and businesses need to take proactive fire management steps, responsibly controlling vegetation. We all know that with drought comes tinder-dry landscapes and inevitably bushfires. We accept that eradicating bushfires is simply unrealistic. Having said this, the impact of the bushfires can actually be controlled, using a concept known as controlled cool burning
Controlled Cool Burning – The Basics
Before Australia was colonised, Aboriginal people used fire to manage the land, turning to it to not only reduce the impact of the bushfire on the land, but to prevent their memories and sacred places being destroyed by such fires. In modern times where technology often seems to rule, it can be easy to neglect and forget about past traditions, some of which, as in the case of controlled cool burning, could and should be used by landowners, governments and farmers to better manage the risk of damage from fire.
So, what is controlled cool burning? In short, it is a process of undertaking controlled burns during the cooler times of the year and the cooler times of the day, preferably in the early parts of the dry season. Where burning takes place depends on a large variety of factors, ranging from ecosystem type to soil type and more.
Drip Torch – The Fire Starter for Controlled Burning
Starting controlled burns always begins with a flame. Traditionally, torches were made using the bark of the tee tree. Nowadays, the most common practice is to use drip torches.
Specialist Sales has recently started stocking handheld drip torches which are ideal for use on farms, mining sites, national parks, timber corporations, power and water companies, and many more. These Fixed Wand Fire Lighters are an excellent tool for burning out and fire line ignition. A well-known brand, the Pacific Fire Lighter, is designed to efficiently light fires in the open, in vegetation and forest litter.
The Pacific Drip Torch
The 4.5L capacity Pacific Drip Torch consists of a double-plated base, 2mm aluminium cylindrical body with 2 flashback protection devices, a 12mm stainless steel wand and a perforated galvanised steel wick chamber containing fibreglass wicking.
The drip torches run on a mixture of diesel (75%) and petrol (25%) and are available in two powder coated finishes, red or green. The torches are lightweight, weighing 2.5kgs when empty.
Using the Drip Torch
When using fixed wand lighters it is important to remember that apart from the specific instruction of how to use a Pacific Fire Lighter and the general requirements for flammable liquids, you should follow all agency or employer instructions for use and work practices. Handling flammable liquids and lighting fires in some vegetation requires formal qualifications and needs to be closely supervised by an experienced person.
Even with due care and attention to safety, lighting fires under some circumstances involves risks. These risks increase where vegetation gets drier, thicker, more difficult to walk through or when visibility is reduced. Walking through rough or remote terrain in smoke or poor visibility with burning vegetation is generally a very high-risk activity and should be avoided.
Another risk that is often ignored is to go solo, lighting fires in vegetation and working alone. Always have a buddy and work out an escape route should the fire you light spread faster or cut off the path you intended to light alone. Fires you light may unexpectedly become hazardous to yourself and others. Be prepared to take evasive action. Plan how to light the target area and also plan how to control or extinguish any fires you light.
Lessons on Controlled Cool Burning from the Aboriginal People
We can learn a lot from the land management practices of the Aboriginal People, and it is advised that you build your knowledge of the ways of fire management should you decide to employ controlled burning on your land.
Here are some useful website as reference on this topic: