Bushfire Icon and Divider
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.

Overview

Managing bushfire across our State is a huge task, so we’ve established the Bushfire Centre of Excellence to help to make our communities safer.

The Bushfire Centre of Excellence is an education hub where bushfire management personnel can come together for training and learning. Our dedicated team is also examining bushfire knowledge, research and the traditional fire practices of Aboriginal Australians.

The Centre is the first of its kind in Australia and located in the Shire of Murray’s Peel Business Park, about an hour south of Perth. Visit us today.

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.

    Bushfire Centre of Excellence Timeline

    Expand the timeline Hide 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.

    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 are delivered from the Bushfire Centre of Excellence facility but training is 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.

    Firefighters use equipment in front of truck

    We’ll gather knowledge from a variety of sources to continually improve the way we identify, share and apply bushfire knowledge. This includes the fire knowledge and traditional practices of Aboriginal people, academic and experiential bushfire knowledge, as well as bushfire research to understand lessons learnt and identify gaps. These insights will help us to prioritise, develop and refine programs and resources to enhance the capability of the bushfire management sector.

    People stand and listen to traditional fire knowledge and practice

    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
    The governor of WA smiles in a group
    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 and executive support services to the function areas. Our team manages the Centre’s facility and is leading the transition into our new state-of-the-art building.

    DFES employees talk to each other

    The Facility

    The Bushfire Centre of Excellence was purpose-built in 2020. It features training rooms and outdoor training spaces, meeting rooms and more. Aboriginal themes have been carefully incorporated into the building’s design, artwork and interpretive information and the landscaping reflects Indigenous and local heritage, local vegetation and fire design guidelines.

    Take a virtual walk-through of the facility using our 3D tour below. For information about how to navigate the tour, see the ‘Help’ button in the bottom right corner of the video. To enquire about using the Bushfire Centre of Excellence for a function, training course or other event, contact us today.

    From the Kwinana Freeway turnoff, the Bushfire Centre of Excellence facility is located off Lakes Road, Nambeelup, on the newly established Dollyup Street (before Gull Road). The Centre is the first building to be completed in the Shire of Murray’s Peel Business Park, which is set to become an innovative business hub.

    The Shire of Murray is located in WA’s Peel Region and is the ancestral home of the Bindjareb people, an indigenous Australian group of Nyungar speakers. The Bindjareb community have given the centre the Nyungar name Karla Katitjin. ‘Karla’ means fire and ‘Katitjin’ means knowledge.

    A project working group was established in 2019 to guide the planning, development and review process of the building design and convened regularly with the architects, Site Architecture Studio. The group was integral to the final design which includes three interconnected spaces that form the shape of a boomerang. The building was constructed by Bunbury based company Perkins Builders and completed in January 2021.

    The WA State Government’s Percent for Art Scheme presented the opportunity for the facility to feature artworks representative of the Centre’s fire focus. Artist Penelope Forlano was selected to create a suite of integrated and abstracted artworks for the Bushfire Centre of Excellence, collaborating with Bindjareb Traditional Owner Karrie-Anne Kearing Salmon on the narrative and design. The artworks include decorative window glazing on interior and exterior doors and windows and perforated anodised metal shade screens at the front and rear of the building; inspired by the mosaic burning practices of Aboriginal Australians.

    Photos by: Douglas Mark Black

    Traditional Fire Program

    The Bushfire Centre of Excellence is committed to gathering traditional and cultural knowledge about fire practices. To achieve this, the Centre has established a Traditional Fire Program which is considering how we can better link contemporary fire management with traditional fire practices.

    The Traditional Fire Program will:

    • Work with partners to further develop stakeholder relationships and strengthen existing local skills and knowledge;
    • Support knowledge sharing opportunities and cultural change;
    • Identify traditional fire knowledge and best practice; and
    • Work with research institutions and other agencies to consolidate traditional fire methods to create a hybrid of these principles.

    Across WA, a mixture of traditional and contemporary practices are being used with great success. The intent of the Traditional Fire Program is to support the development, implementation, coordination and promotion of both existing and future programs.

    DFES Aboriginal trainees complete the first flag raising at the Bushfire Centre of Excellence accompanied by Cultural Fire Officer Clifton Bieundurry singing a traditional song.

    Latest News

    Opening ceremony celebrates completion of Australian-first Bushfire Centre of Excellence

    27 January 2020

    Practical completion of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Bushfire Centre of Excellence (BCoE) has been celebrated with a formal ceremony on Monday 25 January 2021.

    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

    The Bushfire Centre of Excellence is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm. If you have a question or would like to receive updates, we’d love to hear from you.

    More Information