While autumn is well underway for Western Australia, hot and windy conditions continue to prevail in parts and Total Fire Bans (TFB) are still being issued regularly by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES).
Since the start of July 2018 through to mid-March 2019 there have been 52 days when a TFB has been declared, with 112 bushfires occurring on those days. Of those 112 fires, 48 were caused by activities that are banned on TFB days.
DFES Assistant Commissioner Metropolitan Operations Brad Stringer said it was concerning to see the numbers of fires that occurred on days when conditions were dangerous.
“Our emergency services career and volunteer firefighters do an outstanding job of protecting the community when bushfire threatens and it is frustrating for them to attend incidents that could very easily have been prevented,” Assistant Commissioner Stringer said.
“We are now entering April, so while the weather does become a little cooler we are still seeing days in excess of 30 degrees and the community needs to be aware that TFBs could still be declared at any time.
“Warnings have already been issued to people who have ignored a TFB declaration and in October last year the State Government introduced $1,000 on the spot fines. People need to heed these warnings to help reduce the number of fires being started unnecessarily.”
There are a number of factors that determine when a TFB will be issued for a local government area.
“DFES works closely with the Bureau of Meteorology to determine if forecast weather conditions justify the declaration of a TFB,” Assistant Commissioner Stringer said.
“The weather forecast and Fire Danger Rating (FDR) is the first trigger point for a TFB on days with high temperatures, strong winds, and dry fuel loads meaning an increased risk that a bushfire will threaten lives and property.
“Other factors are also taken into consideration including a prolonged forecast of adverse weather including dry lightning, fuel loads in the affected area, and importantly if firefighting resources are already depleted due to existing bushfire incidents.
“It’s vital the community keep themselves informed of TFBs regularly because in most cases TFBs are issued the day before the ban comes into place but with the unpredictability of weather, they can be issued at any time and be in effect immediately.”
You can stay informed by checking the TFB declarations on Emergency WA, calling 13 DFES (133 377), following the DFES Facebook and Twitter pages, and by listening to ABC local radio.
While TFBs are declared for a set period when weather conditions warrant it, the community needs to also be aware of and heed the Prohibited Burning Period (PBP) that can be enacted by a local government.
A PBP differs from a TFB through a number of factors including:
- a PBP is declared by the local government district, not DFES;
- a PBP will usually come into effect for a set period of time during the summer months in a local government district; and
- a PBP bans the burning of fuel loads on properties and in gazetted areas for the set period.
PBPs are set by the local government and the community should be aware of the period in their district and in the districts they may be visiting.