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Local government fire equipment coordinator Dave Churn, City of Swan Mayor David Lucas and deputy chief bush fire control officer John Mangini with the new mobile command vehicle.

Fuel loads at a high as firefighters prepare for summer

FIREFIGHTERS are bracing for what could potentially be an explosive fire season, with surprising weather conditions contributing to a big fuel load.

On Wednesday, the City of Swan officially donated a command vehicle to local firefighters that will be used as a mobile command base by Deputy Chief Bush Fire Control Officers.

The vehicle has been kitted out with firefighting equipment and a mobile command centre, and DCBFCO John Mangini said the vehicle could see plenty of use, given the fuel load present within the City of Swan.

He said the increased fuel load was caused not just by the wet weather, but also by another suprising factor.

“Talking to the farming community, weed and pasture growth is above average,” he said.

“We’ve also had slightly higher temperatures, which may surprise people, but one or two degree higher average temperatures make a huge difference to the growth rate.

“Recent burst of sunshine have exacerbated that.

“When it all dries off…we’re not hoping to be busy but there’s the chance.”

Mr Mangini added that although residents had been proactive in preventing fires in recent years, incidents such as the Waroona fires of January 2016 were at the forefront of his mind.

“In the last couple of years residents have been very well behaved in terms of taking care to prevent bushfires happening, but people do make mistakes, accidents do happen, machinery does break down causing fires, power lines sometimes come down despite the best efforts of Western Power and others, but the big uncertainty is lightning.

“We cannot control when lightning occurs.

“As an example, on the day when the Waroona/Yarloop fires took their big run, Gidgegannup alone had at least 18 fires started by lightning strikes, but we were fortunate in that a band of rain went through so none of them got to any size and we were able to deal with them all.

“Had that not gone through we could have had a situation like Waroona.”

City of Swan Mayor David Lucas also moved to remind residents that fire breaks were due to be finished by November 1.

Penalties can be imposed if breaks are not constructed by then, depending on circumstances, and as a last resort City Officers can force entry to a property to construct a fire break.

“We’re very proud of our residents because they are generally proactive in preventing bushfires,” Cr Lucas said.

“What we’re encouraging people to do, you’ve got two months, get in now to get that firebreak finish and if you need to get a contactor to come in, organise that as soon as possible.”

About Liam Ducey

Liam Ducey is an experienced journalist, having worked in print media in Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Port Hedland, Bunbury and across the metropolitan area, as well as online for several Fairfax Media mastheads. His reporting has seen him awarded the 2013 Clubs WA award for Best Club Media Story in 2013 and the Western Australian Football Commission Umpiring Media Award in 2014. He's recently had a baby girl, Emilia, with his wife Roselyn and has lost all concept of time and sleep.

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