THE State government has committed $35 million towards bush fire mitigation on Crown land in an effort to reduce the possibility of a severe fire this season.
Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan said with summer just around the corner and temperatures rising, everyone should prepare for the upcoming season.
The weather is predicted to be “particularly hot and dry” this summer after Western Australia experienced “its warmest September on record while rainfall for the month was the fifth-lowest since records began,” Mr Logan said.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services is working to mitigate the bushfire threat through activities such as prescribed burning and developing firebreaks, as well as holding community workshops to educate the public on planning and preparedness.
Mr Logan called on Western Australians to support the efforts of emergency services by doing everything they could to prepare their families and properties this bushfire season.
He said the message to the public was that “if you live near bushland or if you are travelling to the South West you need to prepare now”.
“The weather conditions in WA paint a fairly bleak picture of what we’re facing this bushfire season and that’s why it’s so important that everyone works together to reduce the threat,” Mr Logan said.
While the government has increased its investment in bushfire mitigation planning, Mr Logan said it had to be a united effort.
“I’m urging everybody to prepare their property, have an emergency kit ready to go and know what you will do if a bushfire strikes,” he said.
“Having a five-minute Fire Chat with your family about what you will do if a bushfire threatens your area could potentially save your life.
“Indecision can be fatal, so take the time now to decide when you will know to leave, where you will go and how you will get there.”
WA Volunteer Bushfire Brigade president Dave Gossage said the association “knows that mitigation is an essential and valuable tool to manage bushfire risk and as such, has always been supportive”.
“We welcome the McGowan government’s interest and investment in bushfire mitigation, but the way that support is sometimes portrayed can be a double-edged sword for community safety,” Mr Gossage said.
“Frankly, we are a bit concerned that headlines about tens of millions of dollars being spent on mitigation could dilute the important message of the need for individual responsibility and ultimately lead to less resilient communities.
“While it is true that DFES is spending unprecedented levels of ESL on the administration of mitigation, it is extremely important for the community to be absolutely clear that much of the actual mitigation work is still being done by their local bushfire volunteers.
“If that fact is lost in all the good news about the money being spent on planning, we fear that some might come to believe there is less of a need to volunteer – which would obviously be a terrible outcome for everyone.”