ANOTHER call for residents to ensure they have a bushfire plan by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) this week in the face of total fire bans in the shires of Mundaring, Chittering, York and cities of Swan and Kalamunda has never been more urgent.
This week emergency and heatwave warnings were issued for Midland, Mundaring and Kalamunda and forced park closures of the Avon Valley National Park and Gnangara State Forest in the City of Swan, trails in the John Forrest National Park in the Shire of Mundaring, along with harvest, vehicle movement and hot work bans in the Shire of York during the busy harvest season.
With the on-going threat of a severe bushfire season, DFES is again appealing to the public to spend 15 minutes making a bushfire plan and be prepared.
As previously reported DFES warns: Finalise bushfire plans now! (Echo News, November 3) the message is still failing to resonate with many residents.
Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said research reveals more than a third of Western Australians believe there is no risk in their neighbourhood.
This week DFES launched its annual bushfire safety campaign to highlight how easy it is to make a plan which could save your life.
More than 93 per cent of WA is bushfire-prone, but research by DFES, after the last bushfire season, found more than 40 per cent of respondents did not think they needed a plan because they thought they lived in a low-risk suburb.
The research indicated a further 27 per cent of respondents intended to create a bushfire plan using the DFES app, but still hadn’t got around to it.
Recent blazes in Kings Park, Bold Park and Piara Waters have shown that even high-density suburban areas can be threatened by bushfires with burning embers capable of travelling up to 20km in strong winds.
Since early October, there have been 376 large bushfires that have burned more than 4.2 million hectares across the state, while 11 emergency warnings have been issued for blazes that threatened lives and homes, and the early activation of the aerial fleet to support firefighters.
The state government is investing more than $140 million to upgrade emergency services vehicles and facilities across WA, as well as injecting $5.7m into bushfire mitigation activities.
Mr Dawson warned with an early start to this year’s bushfire season – one that is promising to be severe – it’s imperative that every household is ready to respond to the threat of a bushfire.
“Given the recent spate of fires it’s disturbing that some residents still don’t seem to be getting the message – the time to prepare is now.
“We have activated our aerial fleet in response to the early start to the season and we are funding a Large Air Tanker (LAT) to be based in Western Australia to support ground crews. The LAT will operate alongside more than 30 other aircraft in our firefighting fleet,” Mr Dawson said.
He thanked emergency services personnel and volunteers across the state who have worked hard to prepare their communities for bushfire season.
“Now the focus is on all Western Australians to play their part and make a bushfire plan.”
Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm echoed the minister’s call and said time was running out for Western Australians to get their bushfire plans in place before the hot, dry weather arrives in full force and ferocious fires are on our doorstep.
“Important questions to ask include what are your options to escape, where will you shelter if you can’t leave, are your essential items in an easy to find location and do you have a battery operated radio to stay informed if you lose phone reception?,” Mr Klemm said.
“The numbers are stark – more than 93 per cent of the state is bushfire prone yet only 1 per cent of households have a recorded bushfire plan.
“It only takes 15 minutes to make a bushfire plan and it could save your life. Don’t leave it too late – prepare your plan now because making decisions while under threat is extremely difficult, stressful and dangerous.”
The My Bushfire Plan app and website helps users make the critical choice of leaving early or staying to defend and has important prompts including what to do with pets, what is needed to evacuate and ensuring everyone in the household knows the plan and their role.
Visit www.mybushfireplan.wa.gov.au or download the app to create a bushfire plan.