Push for bushfire plans as temperatures rise

Push for bushfire plans as temperatures rise

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Member for Jandakot Yaz Mubarakai, DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm, Piara Waters resident Ryan Clarke, Minister for Emergency Services Stephen Dawson, local hero Anthony Mohr, Mayor Ruth Butterfield, and Deputy Mayor John Keogh.

It’s not really news that it’s hot outside right now.

But what is news is that Perth is currently facing its first ever November severe heatwave warning, with temperatures set to peak today at 40 degrees C, according to the BOM.

The heatwave is predicted to begin to subside by Monday, with temperatures dropping below 35 degrees for the first time since last Tuesday.

Perth has only ever recorded four 40-degree days in November.

The BOM’s Jessica Lingard has said we could possibly add another two days to that tally by the end of the month.

With the scorching heat, and damaging wind gusts of up to 90kph recorded over the past 24 hours, the risk of bushfires is very high.

A total fire ban was declared yesterday for the Cities of Gosnells, Armadale and the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale, amongst other vast tracts of land across the state. And then again for today.

It’s possible we could have a few more total fire bans over the weekend.

On a total fire ban day, it is illegal to light an open-air fire or conduct any activity that could start a fire, including off-road driving, using angle grinders, welders, or other ‘hot’ cutting devices, and bee smokers.

It is also common practice to switch off electric fences.

About 90 percent of bushfires are believed to be deliberately or recklessly lit, according to DFES.

More than 93 per cent of WA is bushfire-prone, but research by DFES, after last bushfire season, found more than 40 per cent of respondents did not think they needed a plan because they thought they lived in a low-risk suburb.

The research indicated a further 27 per cent of respondents intended to create a bushfire plan using the DFES app, but still hadn’t got around to it.

Roleystone stands apart as one of the top five suburbs for completed plans in Western Australia.

But recent blazes in Piara Waters, Kings Park, and Bold Park have shown that even high-density suburban areas can be threatened by bushfires with burning embers capable of travelling up to 20km in strong winds.

City of Armadale mayor Ruth Butterfield said “the considerable impact of the Piara Waters fire cannot be underestimated, with many residents being evacuated from their homes and experiencing continuing impacts”.

“As a result of the playground fire, the prominent tree canopy that sat across the boardwalks has been destroyed,” she said.

Since early October, there have been 376 large bushfires that have burned more than 4.2 million hectares across the state, while 11 emergency warnings have been issued for blazes that threatened lives and homes.

With the unseasonable heatwave and early start to bushfire season this year, the state government is appealing to everyone to spend 15 minutes making a bushfire plan.

Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson visited the charred Piara Waters Park on Monday morning to launch the DFES annual bushfire safety campaign.

“Given the recent spate of fires it’s disturbing that some Western Australians still don’t seem to be getting the message – the time to prepare is now,” Mr Dawson said.

“To boost community safety the government is investing more than $140 million in providing new equipment and facilities to support our firefighters, as well as injecting $5.7 million into bushfire mitigation activities.

“We have activated our aerial fleet in response to the early start to the season and we are funding a Large Air Tanker (LAT) to be based in Western Australia to support ground crews.

“The LAT will operate alongside more than 30 other aircraft in our firefighting fleet.

“Now the focus is on all Western Australians to play their part and make a bushfire plan.”

Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said the most important questions to ask yourself and your family are: “what are your options to escape, where will you shelter if you can’t leave, are your essential items in an easy to find location and do you have a battery-operated radio to stay informed if you lose phone reception?”

“The numbers are stark – more than 93 per cent of the State is bushfire prone yet only one per cent of households have a recorded bushfire plan,” Mr Klemm said.

“It only takes 15 minutes to make a bushfire plan and it could save your life. Don’t leave it too late – prepare your plan now because making decisions while under threat is extremely difficult, stressful and dangerous.”

The My Bushfire Plan app and website helps users make the critical choice of leaving early or staying to defend and has important prompts including what to do with pets, what is needed to evacuate and ensuring everyone in the household knows the plan and their role.

Visit www.mybushfireplan.wa.gov.au to create a bushfire plan, or you can download the app.