Public Inquiry into the Waroona-Yarloop bushfires

An inquiry has been commenced into the bushfires that affected the Western Australia towns of Waroona, Yarloop and Harvey. The inquiry, headed up by former head of the Victorian Country Fire Authority Euan Ferguson, will begin an investigation into the fire, and the response by authorities handling the bushfire. The inquiry may involve the holding of public hearings and a call for submissions.

Mr Ferguson said there were “compelling questions to be answered” in relation to the bushfires, which were started by lightning in January 2016 and destroyed 160 properties in the South West, including almost the complete destruction of the town of Yarloop. Mr Ferguson stated that “clearly the fire which affected part of the Shire of Harvey, Yarloop township and Waroona, was devastating. I think we owe it to the community who have lost their dwellings, been severely affected by this fire, to produce an inquiry that answers a number of compelling questions that have come about after the fire.”

Mr Ferguson will have the same powers as a royal commission and the WA State Government has promised the inquiry will be independent and thorough. As Mr Ferguson noted of the breadth of the terms of reference: “it goes to the management of the fire, previous reports and future arrangements”. However, some agencies, including the Association of Volunteer Bushfire Brigades, Emergency Services Volunteer Association, State Emergency Services Volunteer Association and WA Farmers have questioned whether the scope of the inquiry is wide enough, and whether it should include last year’s fire in Esperance, which killed four people.

WA BAL Report considers the inquiry into the bushfires to be of great importance in determining what went wrong and what future lessons can be learnt about dealing with bushfires. Depending on the outcome of the inquiry, there may be changes to legislation, policy and response to bushfire risk in Western Australia, which would be relevant to the measures required to be implemented in relation to bushfire attack levels. WA BAL Report is committed to ensuring that it remains up to date with the best practices for bushfire prevention for the protection of the community. WA BAL Report also recommends that you have a BAL Assessment Report conducted if you live in a bushfire-prone area.

For more information

WA BAL Report specialises in bushfire attack level assessments and bushfire attack level reports. We are happy to provide further assistance and information on bushfire prevention. Contact our friendly staff on 08 6114 9356 or at admin@wabalreport.com.au

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