Australia — The creation of a public fuel load database revealing WA’s most bushfire-prone areas, a key recommendation of the Keelty report, is in doubt because authorities fear it will become a roadmap for arsonists.
The recommendation by former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty is one of 55 arising from his report into the Hills fire last February.
But a State Government document detailing the implementation of the report’s recommendations shows the public database is a sticking point.
Mr Keelty said in his report he was disappointed WA had no mechanism to calculate fuel loads.
He recommended the Fire and Emergency Services Authority work with the Department of Environment and Conservation and local governments to create one.
The Government document reveals FESA’s fire investigations and analysis unit and WA Police’s arson squad have reservations about making the database public.
Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell said he supported the database and the Government would deliberate over FESA and the police’s concerns.
Roger Underwood, chairman of lobby group the Bushfire Front, said yesterday the Government should not abandon the recommendation.
Mr Underwood suggested people be permitted to view the database at a FESA or DEC office if they provided personal details.
Building surveyors are calling on the Government to urgently declare the whole of WA bushfire prone.
Australian Institute of Building Surveyors president Terry Bush said that if WA was declared bushfire prone, all new homes would be assessed but only those at risk would be required to build to the standards.
Until then, homes would continue to be built in bushfire-prone areas without additional safeguards. A spokesman for the Department of Premier and Cabinet said that many of the recommendations had been fully implemented, while most of the others had been substantially implemented.