The Western Australian State Government has now launched the 2017-18 ‘Are You Bushfire Ready?’ (AYBR) campaign, which calls upon everyone in the community to prepare themselves before the upcoming bushfire season.
The campaign launch was held in Argyle, in the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup, where the community has faced two major bushfires in the last three years, including one which threatened homes on 26 January this year.
Argyle resident Ray Mallon said it was thorough pre-season planning and preparation that made it possible for him to stay and defend his property when it was endangered earlier in the year.
“I attended quite a few local Bushfire Ready meetings and gained a lot of practical knowledge by talking to the group and the Argyle-Irishtown Bush Fire Brigade,” Ray said.
“When the fire came it was like a train coming towards me, but because I had prepared I was very task oriented.
“I had the proper bushfire protective clothing, mask and boots as well. I would have been in trouble otherwise - even with correct footwear I discovered afterwards that my shoes had partially melted.”
Argyle-Irishtown Bush Fire Brigade Captain Scott Rowe also spoke about the importance of community preparedness.
“One of the best ways to be prepared is to have good links with your neighbours, and an understanding that you will contact each other in an emergency and keep each other safe,” Scott said.
“It’s really about that community involvement and the people of Argyle have been really pro-active in getting themselves prepared and building those community networks.”
To help residents to be better prepared for bushfire this season, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services has introduced a new suite of bushfire planning and preparation tools called Fire Chat.
The first step is the 5 Minute Fire Chat, which asks people who live in a high bushfire risk area to have a quick chat and discuss three key questions about what they will do in the event of a bushfire. For those who want to take the next step, there is also the Bushfire Preparation Toolkit.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said with summer around the corner now is the time to get ready.
“As we have seen in recent years, bushfires can have a devastating toll on Western Australian communities - I cannot stress enough how important it is to be prepared,” Commissioner Klemm said.
“It’s impossible to predict where or when the next major bushfire will occur, but there is no doubt that fires will strike this summer.
“Sit down with your family, or talk to your neighbours, and have a chat about what you will do if you’re threatened by bushfire.
“Having a plan will help you and your loved ones understand the actions you all need take and help you to avoid making last minute decisions that could end up being deadly.
“Preparing for bushfires is a shared responsibility and everyone needs to play their role to ensure we as a community are as prepared as possible.
“I commend the Argyle-Irishtown Bushfire Brigade members whose dedication and support has empowered their local community to be bushfire ready.”
Visit emergency.wa.gov.au/prepare to download Fire Chat, for other information about how to prepare for bushfire season, and to keep up to date when emergencies occur.
How to prepare for bushfires
Prepare a bushfire plan:
• Develop a bushfire plan that outlines what you will do if a bushfire occurs. Fire Chat will help you with this process.
• Having a plan will help you take action and avoid making last minute decisions that could prove deadly during a bushfire.
• Don’t forget to factor in your pets and/or livestock- during a bushfire they will need water, shelter and a safe place to stay.
• Practice your plan regularly with your family, write it down and make sure everyone knows where it is.
Prepare your property:
• Install a mesh guard on your air conditioner.
• Rake up leaf litter and remove rubbish from around your home.
• Prune overhanging trees and shrubs.
• Keep grass short.
• Keep gutters free of leaves.
• Store flammable liquids, chemicals and firewood away from your home.
• Put in firebreaks.
• If you plan to stay and actively defend your home, you will need an independent water supply of at least 20,000 litres, a generator and pressure pump.
Prepare your emergency kit:
• Have an emergency kit ready to go in case you need to evacuate or are cut off during a bushfire.
• This kit should include essential supplies such as a radio, spare batteries, torch, first aid kit, woollen blanket, emergency contact numbers, water and non-perishable food.
• On the day, don’t forget to add essentials such as your wallet/purse, car and house keys, medications, phone and charger and important documents.