Prescribed burning proposed in wake of report

Prescribed burning proposed in wake of report

29 June 2011

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Australia — WESTERN AUSTRALIA — The State Government says there is a need for more controlled burning after an inquiry into three major fires in, and around, Perth earlier this year.

A report, commissioned by the Fire and Emergency Services Authority on the Roleystone, Red Hill and Lake Clifton fires, has made several recommendations about how similar situations could be managed.

One of the recommendations included declaring the hills suburbs “fire prone.”

Eighty-one homes were destroyed in the fires but the report found that FESA’s response had been largely successful because no lives were lost.

The Minister for Police and Emergency Services Rob Johnson says the government is examining how further prescribed burning could be implemented across WA.

“The more mitigation and fuel reduction that you can put in place, the less opportunity there is for having huge bushfires that will cause the sort of problems we saw earlier this year,” he said.

The author of the report Stuart Ellis says while there is plenty of room for improvement, FESA should be largely congratulated because no lives were lost.

“Because there was no loss of life I think people then tend to look at other issues and are critical of other issues,” he said.

“Certainly in the report it highlights a number of operational areas that can be improved but essentially the fact that there was no loss of life is a very positive result.”

The review proposed increased training for operational commanders and improving coordination between agencies.

The report also found, in many cases, despite effective community engagement by fire authorities, residents had failed to properly prepare their homes.

FESA says it accepts all the findings and recommendations and will now work with stakeholders to implement them.

Mr Ellis says he would like to see the recommendations from the review implemented as soon as possible.

“With the report being released now there’s a very good opportunity to consider and potentially enact all the reccomendations before the coming fire season.”

Independent review

A separate, independent review into the bushfire which hit Roleystone and Kelmscott has been commissioned by the State Government.

The former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty is chairing that review which the Government hopes will deliver new guidelines to help manage bushfires in the future.

It will investigate the adequacy of current preventative measures like prescribed burning, the effectiveness of planning and local by-laws and the responsibility of home owners.

At the time, Mr Keelty said community input would be vital.


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