FESA is urging people in the State’s north to get ready for the peak of the northern bushfire season, as the Kimberley and Pilbara head into the highest risk months for bushfires.
The fire north of Broome over the weekend is a timely reminder that bushfires pose a real threat to communities in the North West.
The Bushfire CRC Northern Australian Seasonal Bushfire Assessment for 2012-13 highlighted large areas of the North West face above average fire potential this bushfire season.
Chief Superintendent Country North Rob Cox said a challenging season was expected across the board.
“Much of the north is naturally fire prone country and dry conditions expected later in the season will make bushfires burn more intensively and extensively in the region,” he said.
“Despite fires last season reducing of the amount of vegetation on the ground, the potential in some areas remains higher than normal.
“Bushfires can pose a serious risk to lives and properties and everyone, including residents and travellers, needs to take action to keep themselves safe.
“Now is the time to prepare your property and make a bushfire survival plan with your family that suits your circumstances.”
The northern bushfire season usually runs from July to late October, and can continue into December depending on weather conditions.
As the season progresses the chances of a destructive and dangerous bushfire occurring increases.
The Bushfire CRC seasonal outlook for the north of the State, released in August, showed:
- The Pilbara and Northern Goldfields have above average bushfire potential because of heavy rainfall resulting in widespread grass growth in areas mainly east of Newman.
- The Kimberley has been subject to high rainfall in the past six months that has resulted in significant grass growth across the region.
- Prescribed burning in the Kimberley has been largely effective, but vegetation growth increases the risk of fires starting and spreading.
- Inland from Broome to Kununurra and down to Halls Creek there will be a high risk of bushfire as the weather conditions are more conducive to bushfires.
FESA has been working closely with local governments, pastoralists and remote Indigenous communities to implement fire management plans to reduce the impact of uncontrolled bushfires.
To keep yourself safe:
- Clear a 20 metre circle of safety around your home. Remove all long grass, leaves, rubbish and anything that could catch fire.
- Prune low tree branches and create a gap of two metres between your home and any branches.
- Clear leaves and bark out of gutters.
- Clear vegetation around boundary of property to create a firebreak. Make sure you meet your local government’s firebreak requirements.
- Prevent sparks from entering your house by blocking any gaps in roof spaces, under floors and in wall cavities.
- If you plan to actively defend your home you will need to have an independent water supply of at least 20,000 litres and petrol, diesel or a generator powered pump capable of pumping 400 litres per minute.
- Check that your home and contents insurance is adequate.
- Keep gas cylinders on the side of the house furthest away from the likely direction of a fire.
- Develop a bushfire survival plan that everyone in your family knows and understands.
- Whether you choose to leave for a safer place, or actively defend your home, preparation is the key to your survival.
- Check Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans for the area you are travelling to.
- Be prepared to change your travel plans on hot, dry and windy days.
- Have a map and be aware of your surroundings.
- Be prepared for what you will do if you encounter a bushfire.
- Travel with a survival kit containing essential items such as a portable radio, spare batteries, a first aid kit, woollen blankets, drinking water, protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
- Program the FESA Emergency Information Line 1300 657 209 into your phone and call 000 in an emergency.
- Find out what bushfire safety plans are in place in the area where you are camping, caravanning or renting accommodation.
- Tune into the local ABC radio frequency.
- In a major emergency ABC broadcasts are issued regularly.
More bushfire safety information can be found in FESA’s Prepare. Act. Survive booklet at www.fesa.wa.gov.au. Travellers can also pick up a Travellers’ Checklist from visitors centres.