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Police are set to target arsonists this bushfire season.

Strike Force Vulcan set to target arsonists

WITH one of the first major blazes of the 2017/2018 bushfire season already identified as the work of an arsonist, WA Police, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) are once again teaming up to pinpoint fire-starters with Strike Force Vulcan.

The strike force was first put together in 2010 and between 2012 and 2017, police statistics indicate that for 198 offences, 39 people were charged or summonsed and 127 cautions handed out to juveniles.

The officer in charge of WA Police’s arson squad, Senior Sergeant Nick Fucile, also heads up Strike Force Vulcan, and he said the work of the community was vital to assisting the force.

“Strike Force Vulcan works in collaboration with Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to prevent and investigate bushfires,” he said.

“Every year during the bushfire season, Vulcan implements a number of pro-active and reactive strategies to safe guard against identified hotspots.

“The hills region remains a focus for Vulcan and as such, investigators, DFES and Parks and Wildlfe work closely with local police and local government to ensure a timely response to bushfires and the immediate follow up of information provided by the community in relation to potential arsonists.

“WA Police Force is committed to utilizing all available resources to identify and apprehend bushfire arsonists and minimize injury or loss of life and damage to property as required.

“During the operation, intensive police patrols and special projects will be undertaken to detect and deter bushfire arson.

“The prevention of bushfires in WA can only be achieved with public help. 

“Rest assured that if the Eastern Hills region is identified as a hotspot, Vulcan will provide an immediate and dedicated service to the area.”

A fire in Mundaring in late November, just prior to the official start of the bushfire season on December 1, has already been identified as the work of an arsonist.

The blaze started near the corner of Greenmount Rise and Robinson Road in Greenmount National Park and although the fire was contained within 24 hours, thanks to the efforts of 34 fire-trucks, three Heli-tacs and one fixed wing aircraft, it was still a concern to see a bushfire relatively early in the year.

Senior Sgt Fucile confirmed Strike Force Vulcan was investigating the fire.

“In relation to the most recent Greenmount fire, information from community sources are being investigated by Vulcan investigators in an effort to identify offenders.

“Inquiries are still continuing.”

DFES have also announced they are willing to take strong action against people ignoring Total Fire Bans, with fines of up to $25,000 or 12 months imprisonment prescribed as the maximum penalties for ignoring a TFB or TFB exemption.

DFES asistant commissioner country operations Graham Swift said people breaching Total Fire Bans are putting the community at unnecessary risk.

“Total Fire Bans are declared on days fires will be very difficult to control due to extreme fire weather conditions, or if there are widespread fires seriously stretching firefighting resources,” Assistant Commissioner Swift said.

“Ignorance isn’t an excuse during a Total Fire Ban so do the right thing and don’t put the lives of your family and neighbours at risk.

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, and he's a finalist in three categories of the 2018 WA Media Awards. 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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