One year on, the Bushfire Centre of Excellence is on track to deliver a purpose-built facility in the Shire of Murray by the end of 2020.
The Centre was announced by the WA State Government as part of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ (DFES) new Rural Fire Division in April 2018.
Executive Director Rural Fire Division Murray Carter said the Centre of Excellence is an integral part of DFES’ work to improve the State’s capacity to prevent and prepare for damaging bushfires.
“DFES is making great strides across mitigation, bushfire research and environmental analysis, bushfire risk management planning and more,” Executive Director Carter said.
“By establishing the Centre of Excellence, we’re supporting the wider bushfire sector through the provision of shared knowledge, training and engagement.
“We will deliver an innovative facility that will ensure all stakeholders across the bushfire management sector have the capability to undertake their role with growing efficiency.”
The Shire of Murray was announced as the host of the Bushfire Centre of Excellence on 1 March 2019 and the Peel Business Park outside of Pinjarra was identified as a site for the building.
Architectural design of this unique facility is about to commence with the support of the local Bindjareb Community and the Shire of Murray.
DFES is also working closely with the Shire and LandCorp to finalise site requirements and acquisition of the selected block of land within the Business Park.
DFES Chief Superintendent Bushfire Centre of Excellence John Tillman said he was extremely pleased with the progress to date, including the delivery of the Centre’s first joint-agency training courses.
“Two Fire Weather courses were facilitated in June, teaching participants the impact of weather on fire behaviour, local weather observation and forecasting tools,” Chief Superintendent Tillman said.
“The courses were presented by staff from South Australia’s Country Fire Service and Department of Environment and Water in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology, and featured a mix of DFES and DBCA staff in a wide variety of roles across WA.
“The participants will continue on to complete an intensive Fire Behaviour Analyst course, presented by Dr. Kevin Tolhurst from Victoria. This will be the first time this course has been presented in Western Australia and is a significant achievement in building local bushfire capability.”
Additional training courses will begin in the coming months as part of the Centre’s inaugural training calendar for 2019-2020; including a two day Introduction to Prescribed Burning course aimed at personnel planning and conducting low complexity prescribed burns.
A comprehensive review of existing bush firefighting training products is also close to completion, with the first courses scheduled to be implemented from January 2020.
The recruitment of the Bushfire Centre of Excellence team will also commence in the second half of 2019, with the first positions being advertised this month.
The proposed team structure will include permanent staffing and an Aboriginal Trainee Program providing unique job opportunities in the region.
While the facility is being built, the team will work locally from a temporary facility in Pinjarra, further supporting the growth of the local economy.
Training courses are being scheduled to run from this temporary facility as well as in a range of regional locations across the State to build bushfire skills and capability.
Consultation will be ongoing in 2019 and 2020 to support the development of this transformative project.
Further information on the Bushfire Centre of Excellence can be found on the DFES website.