Bushfire season preparation

Firefighters on the ground during November bushfires in 2015.
Firefighters on the ground during November bushfires in 2015.

Going into the 2017/2018 bushfire season, the Shire of Esperance and Department of Emergency Services have provided information on staying safe and prepared over the coming months.

Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott said rangers had been conducting routine inspection of properties and were disappointed with the results.

“We have just commemorated the second anniversary of the worst bushfires in Esperance and it’s a concern that of nearly 400 properties inspected for fire breaks, nearly 300 are non-compliant,” he said.

DFES Great Southern superintendent Wayne Green said the outlook for this season indicated an above normal bushfire potential for western parts of the region.

“As we witnessed in November 2015, it only takes one hot and windy day for a catastrophic bushfire that results in heartbreaking tragedy,” he said.

“It’s essential people don’t become complacent.

We can’t predict where or when a bushfire will strike, and it’s critical everyone is prepared.”

Mr Green said DFES had been working hard to prepare for this bushfire season, which included training and exercises, pre-season briefings, and launching a new web-based resource management system.

Mr Green said 32 of the 36 vehicles in the Great Southern had been fitted, with the remaining four due to be fitted in the near future.

Additionally, 1,452 vehicles were fitted with automated vehicle locator systems and 400 portable units were available state-wide.

“Having the Communications Support Vehicle, complete with satellite technology and the latest communications technology on standby to be deployed to bushfires when required,” he said.

“Preparing and responding to bushfires is a shared responsibility and everyone needs to play their part to stay safe.”

Mr Green said DFES had launched a suite of bushfire planning and preparation tools, spearhead by Fire Chat. 

Fire Chat asks people to have a five minute conversation with their family, friends or neighbours about when to leave, where to go, and which way. 

“You can’t outrun it, or outlast bushfires. So take five minutes to outsmart it,” Mr Green said.

Shire community emergency services coordinator Karen Naylor said they had completed their $70,000 Strategic Fire Break program for this season, which had to be reviewed every year. 

“We are dealing with an unpredictable beast, and no matter how prepared you think you are you can always learn and make changes each year,” she said.

Ms Naylor said community programs had already began for this fire season, with the shire, DFES and local brigades in the process of organising Street Meets – programs to help residents be prepared in case of a bushfire.

For further information on Street Meets contact Charlotte.Powis@dfes.wa.gov.au or karen.naylor@esperance.wa.gov.au