The regime of mandatory training modules and attendance registers at rural fire sheds has had a detrimental effect on attracting much-needed experienced district farmers into the volunteer fire-fighting ranks.
With the prospect of a long, hot dry summer and heightened fire risk ahead, Lanyon farmer Andrew Geikie said that district fire sheds would benefit greatly if "recognised prior learning" applied to those who had farmed the local district for years and knew the country well.
"What puts a lot of farmers off joining the RFS [Rural Fire Service] is that it is overlaid with bureaucracy," he said.
"If you don't keep up your training regime and complete the modules, they won't let you on a fire ground.
"But the reality is that the local farmers are a really valuable resource when a fire gets going, the smoke swirls around and things go south because they know where the gates are, where the wombat holes are, and where the water sources are.
"It would be useful, before we get deep into the fire season, if there was some positive re-engagement between the RFS and the local farmers."
Tom Allen has had two grass fires race through his 900-acre property at Symonston over the years and he can vividly recall the speed at which it travelled.
"A mate and I were up on Hindmarsh Drive with a [water] tank on the back when we saw the smoke and fire going toward my place," Mr Allen recalled.
"By the time we got down the hill and had reached the farm gate, it [the fire] had gone through our paddocks and was into the neighbour's place.
"It was moving that quick; five or six minutes and it [the fire] was through and gone, and we were left putting out the burning fenceposts."
Canberra's rural landholders will be at the front line of any potential bushfire threat to the national capital this summer.
While arson is always an urban danger because creates an unpredictable ignition source where none had been expected, bushfires rolling out of the dense scrub will roll across the ACT's furthermost rural properties first.
Back when the 2003 firestorm burnt 491 ACT houses and properties, Brindabella farmer Wayne West was hit hard and early.
A strategic decision was taken by the NSW Rural Fire Service to use the drought-affected, low-level Goodradigbee River, bordering Mr West's property, as a fire containment line. As an inquiry found later, it was an ill-advised decision.
We've now gone most of spring without any useful rain so the bush up there will be very dry. It won't take much to get [a fire] going.Symonston farmer Tom Allen
Mr West could see the smoke from his place but no crews were sent in to tackle the-then modest McIntyre's Hut fire, believed to have been started by a lightning strike into a tall, dead gum tree. It was left to burn.
A week later, fanned by oven-hot winds, the fire rolled right across the river, through Mr West's property and those of many of his neighbours, and then right into Canberra's western suburbs of Duffy, Holder and Chapman.
Mr Allen, the president of Canberra's rural landholders association and who has farmed the same property for 39 years, said the current drought had created the same tinder dry bush conditions experienced back then and in which lightning strikes again pose a problem.
"It's down south at Tidbinbilla and out to the west where that type of dry storm and lightning threat is the problem. As has been proved in the past, it doesn't take long for a fire to get from there to here," he said.
"We've now gone most of spring without any useful rain so the bush up there will be very dry. It won't take much to get [a fire] going."
Full-time farmers are usually equipped to put out a small grass fire but their resources dry up fast. He has an old truck with a 3000-litre water tank on the back, and a fire fighting pump. And being located close to Canberra, he could expect help to arrive reasonably quickly.
"It's those farmers further out who are the most vulnerable; any help takes a lot longer to arrive," he said.