THE Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has activated its aerial firefighting fleet earlier this year over concerns that WA is on track to have an above average bushfire season, with a special warning for Perth Hills and outer suburban residents.
WA has recorded its hottest September since records began, and hot temperatures and low rainfall are expected to continue in the lead-up to summer and soil dryness readings across the Darling Scarp indicate that fuel is drying out at an earlier rate than previous years.
Authorities have issued an urgent call for the public to take heed of warnings and finalise their bushfire preparations as soon as possible and to download the My Bushfire Plan app.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said looking at the forecast weather conditions and other factors like the level of moisture in soil and vegetation, he was very concerned that the upcoming bushfire season could be much more severe than WA has experienced in recent years.
“Mitigation is critical. If you live in a bushfire prone area like the Perth Hills or the outer suburbs, it is non-negotiable to start cutting long grass, trimming trees, and clearing any material around your home that could become fuel for a bushfire.
“These actions make it much easier for firefighters to protect your home and reduce the spread of a bushfire.
“I’m hoping the fact that we are activating our aerial resources early will send the message to all Western Australians that there is an increased risk of an early start to bushfire season, so they need to finalise their own preparations.”
DFES and the Bureau of Meteorology are monitoring the key indicators which are all pointing to the threat of an early start to the bushfire season.
Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said nine aircraft are being brought online earlier than previous years and will be ready to respond.
An additional four rotary wing aircraft, including two Black Hawk helicopters, are also on standby to start early if required.
An emergency warning was issued for a bushfire in Corrigin recently, indicating that the warm and dry conditions are already elevating the fire risk across the southern part of WA.
The state government funded aerial fleet consists of more than 30 rotary and fixed-wing suppression and aerial intelligence aircraft and is jointly managed by DFES and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said the government was taking every measure to ensure the right resources are available in readiness to keep Western Australians safe this summer.
“We’re calling on the public to listen to the advice of emergency services – make sure you and your family are prepared before a bushfire strikes in your area.
“Our data indicates that not enough people have created a bushfire plan, which is inexcusable when you consider that more than 93 per cent of the state is bushfire prone.
“It only takes 15 minutes to create a plan for you and your family that could save your life, so I encourage people to download the app or go to mybushfireplan.wa.gov.au and make one today.”
Finalise your bushfire preparations as soon as possible and download the My Bushfire Plan app or go to www.mybushfireplan.wa.gov.au