BUSHFIRE CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE

Bushfire management across our vast State needs a strong, collective approach so we can grow our capability to ensure a safer WA.

Background

Plans for a Bushfire Centre of Excellence in WA began after the Special Inquiry into the January 2016 Waroona Fire (Ferguson Report). The report recommended the WA State Government create a rural fire function (Rural Fire Division) to enhance the capability for rural fire management and bushfire risk management. It also recommended that this function would establish a Centre for fire management.

In 2017, the concept of a Bushfire Centre of Excellence was discussed at the Bushfire Mitigation Summit and the inaugural Western Australian Prescribed Burning Forum. It was agreed that creating and capturing learnings through a Centre of Excellence would build bushfire capability for the future.

In 2018, the State Government announced a rural fire reform package in response to the Ferguson Report recommendations. Changes included the establishment of a Rural Fire Division within the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) as well as the establishment of a Bushfire Centre of Excellence.

Following the announcement, DFES consulted with more than 200 stakeholders through workshops, presentations and forums. This informed the Bushfire Centre of Excellence’s key functions and service delivery.

The Centre’s guiding principles were also validated through the consultation process:

    • Reflect and serve our bushfire management sector.

    • Recognise excellence everywhere in bushfire management.

    • Decentralise the delivery of our training programs and services.

    • Design our activities and services to be scalable across Australia and internationally.

    • Operate collectively across agencies through shared training and learning.

    • Represent our communities with diverse and inclusive staff.

    • Recognise and incorporate Aboriginal people’s fire knowledge and experience.

    In March 2019, the Shire of Murray was selected as the preferred Centre location. The decision was made following an extensive Request for Proposal process where local governments across the State could formally express their interest.

    In November 2019 our staff began operating from an interim facility in Pinjarra. It is here that our team will operate until the Bushfire Centre of Excellence is completed in December 2020.

    Bushfire Centre of Excellence Timeline

    Expand the timelineHide the timeline

    Ferguson Report released

    Western Australian Prescribed Burning Forum

    Request for Proposal process

    Recruitment of permanent staff begins

    Tender for construction awarded

    Land acquired for facility

    Traditional Fire Program Coordinator recruited

    Assist with Planned Burning training package trial

    Bushfire Mitigation Summit

    Bushfire Centre of Excellence announced

    Shire of Murray announced as host

    Transition to interim facility

    Sod turning and traditional smoking ceremony

    Bushfire Training Products live

    Bushfire Training Product roll out complete

    Bushfire Centre of Excellence facility complete

    December 2020

    June 2016

    December 2020

    Ferguson Report released

    Bushfire Mitigation Summit

    Western Australian Prescribed Burning Forum

    Bushfire Centre of Excellence announced

    Request for Proposal process

    Shire of Murray announced as host

    Recruitment of permanent staff begins

    Transition to interim facility

    Tender for construction awarded

    Sod turning and traditional smoking ceremony

    Land acquired for facility

    Bushfire Training Products live

    Traditional Fire Program Coordinator recruited

    Bushfire Training Product roll out complete

    Assist with Planned Burning training package trial

    Bushfire Centre of Excellence facility complete

    Our Functions

    The Bushfire Centre of Excellence has four key functions designed to serve the bushfire sector. These functions are also designed to strengthen the ways we build and share skills and information to reduce bushfires and their impacts.

    Training

    Our training team is focused on the development and delivery of bushfire and planned burning training within the bushfire sector. Training is developed and delivered collaboratively with a range of relevant stakeholders.

    Courses will be delivered from the Bushfire Centre of Excellence facility but training will be mainly delivered in the regions.  Unless specifically stated, courses are open to DFES volunteers and staff, local government volunteers and staff, staff from Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and other stakeholders in the sector. Click here to download our Training Calendar.

    Knowledge Management

    We’ll gather knowledge from a variety of sources to continually improve the way we identify, share and apply bushfire knowledge. These sources include:

    • Traditional fire knowledge and practice
    • Academic bushfire knowledge
    • Experiential bushfire knowledge
    Engagement and Outreach

    This function is leading the engagement, outreach and communication-related activities of the Bushfire Centre of Excellence. Our priorities are:

    • Latest news and other communications
    • Our relationships with the bushfire management sector
    • The accessibility of bushfire knowledge and information
    • Bushfire Centre of Excellence events
    Business Management

    A dedicated team is providing the key support services to ensure the smooth running of the Centre and all day-to-day business activities.

    Our priorities are to deliver high-level business support services to the function areas including the executive support for relevant governance structures.

    Our team manages the Centre’s facility and will lead the transition into our new state-of-the-art building later this year.

    The Facility

    The Bushfire Centre of Excellence will primarily host training for volunteer firefighters and other stakeholders in the bushfire sector. The Centre will also be open to the public, giving everyone the opportunity to learn about the history of fire from traditional and contemporary perspectives.

    The building will consist of an administration wing and a training wing, each connected to a central foyer to form a boomerang-shape. This foyer is designed as a public entrance and education space, featuring an interpretive learning centre, library, shared meeting spaces and reception area.

    Key features will include:

    The building was designed by a Perth-based architect studio with input from representatives from the local Bindjareb community, the Shire of Murray, volunteer associations, Parks and Wildlife Service and other key partners.

    Traditional Fire Program

    One of the key goals of the Bushfire Centre of Excellence is to develop skills, knowledge and experience in traditional fire management at a local level through programs and groups.

    To achieve this, the Centre has established a Traditional Fire Program which will consider how we can better link contemporary fire management with traditional fire practices. The program will focus on supporting communities in developing, implementing and promoting traditional fire programs and activities.

    A Traditional Fire Programs Coordinator and Traditional and Cultural Fire Officer will codevelop the program. In the first year they will involve Traditional Custodians, land managers and local communities in better understanding the role, application, uses and cultural connection with fire.

    They will also work closely with Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Local Governments and Aboriginal Land Councils to support existing traditional fire programs within local Aboriginal communities, where appropriate.

    Latest News

    Traditional Fire Program connects with Noongar groups

    30 July 2020

    The Bushfire Centre of Excellence’s (BCoE) Traditional Fire Program has made its first connections with Aboriginal Groups in Western Australia’s South West, gaining valuable insights into their culture and connection to Country.

    Read more

    Download the resources

    As part of the Bushfire Centre of Excellence’s commitment to knowledge sharing, we will collect a range of bushfire related resources. This section will grow as we work to source and develop reliable and applicable products.

    If you can recommend or have access to bushfire resources, please email us.

    Contact the Centre

    If you have a question about the Bushfire Centre of Excellence, or would like to receive updates, we’d love to hear from you.

    Our team is currently operating from an interim facility in Pinjarra until the new Centre is complete. Contact us today to arrange a visit.

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