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Media Release

WA’s fire and emergency services on alert for busy season
Friday 30 October 2009 – 10:20 AM

Fire and emergency services agencies are well prepared for a busy bushfire season in the south of the State and the threat of severe tropical cyclones in the north.


FESA Chief Executive Officer Jo Harrison-Ward said FESA was hosting a seasonal outlook briefing today to bring together all of WA’s key stakeholders to ensure the State’s response agencies were ready and informed.


“The briefing will provide an overview of the predictions for the coming bushfire and cyclone seasons, and there will be updates on State and National arrangements.


“Community safety is the priority for all our fire and emergency service agencies, and we are ready to respond to major incidents, wherever they occur in the State,” she said. 


Ms Harrison-Ward said FESA and the Bureau of Meteorology had worked together to determine the potential bushfire and cyclone risk to communities across WA.


“A tough bushfire season is expected in the south of the State, with late rains causing a significant increase in fuel loads, while the north again faces the risk of cyclone impact.


“Above average winter rainfall has generated abundant grassland fuels and high undergrowth in the forests throughout the south west corner of the State.


“The rains have also delayed the start of the prescribed burning program and as these fuels dry out they will increase the bushfire risk.


“In addition, an El Nino weather pattern is expected to generate a lot more lightning strikes across many parts of the State which could start bushfires,” she said.


Ms Harrison-Ward said the good news was the El Nino conditions would make it less likely for a tropical cyclone to cross the coast before Christmas.


“Unfortunately, this prediction does not offer any guarantee for the second half of the season when we usually see our most severe cyclone impacts,” she said.  


Ms Harrison-Ward said fire and emergency services agencies had been working together to ensure they were ready for the coming season with significant changes to bushfire education and incident response.


“A legislative package has been introduced into Parliament which addresses key issues and recommendations on fire management and also responds those raised in the recent report by Victoria’s Royal Commission.


“These critical amendments to the Bush Fires Act 1954 will strengthen the coordination and management of bushfires in WA,” she said.  

 

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