Western Australia fears the worst as southern and inland parts of the state face a catastrophic fire danger. Warnings have been issues for Central Wheat Belt, Inland Central West-South, Upper Great Southern, Gascoyne Inland, Stirling Inland, Roe and Lakes. The rising temperatures of about 40° C and beyond in the southern areas paired with the hot northerly winds due to a low pressure trough are main driving factors of this potentially calamitous bushfire threat. This is already showing effect in Warwick as a large bushfire that came dangerously close to Warwick shopping centre and was threatening homes in the northern Perth suburb Hamersley, but was controlled by firefighters in the nick of time. Though the immediate danger has been mitigated, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services has issued a “watch and act” for the residents in and adjoining areas of Rocky Road, Rosa Glen Road, Warner Glen Road in Forest Grove. They are urging people to be vigilant to stay up to date in case the situation changes across Southern Western Australia.
This warrants preparation beyond the usual total fire ban. The department of education has called for up to 13 schools being closed in these districts to ensure the safety of children whose management in the case of an emergency can be tough. Fire crews, volunteers and water bombers are all on standby preparing for the worst all across Southern Australia.
If you see or suspect a fire it is important to report it to the authorities immediately. It is essential to know if you are to stay and fight or evacuate immediately. For a catastrophic fire danger, it is always advisable to evacuate but if you decide to stay and fight, ensure the following:
- Prune you trees, keep your understorey slashed to a bare minimum (below 5 cm)
- Ensure there is no fuel load (trees bush, leaf litter, flammable materials etc.) anywhere close to the building and all assets.
- Clear your gutters of any debris.
- Turn off your evaporative coolers but if possible keep the water running.
- Stay indoors at all times and keep all doors and windows shut.
- Keep your sprinklers on and ensure you have ample water supply available to fight any small ignition on your property.
- Stay vigilant, stay safe and be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice!
If you are located in a high risk or adjacent area, it is vital to have a Bushfire Survival Plan in place. However, to ensure to fortify your property in the future, it is best to have a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Assessment, a Bushfire Management Plan (BMP) and/or a Risk Management Plan for your development. While taking all the probable bushfire threats into consideration, these assessments ensure compliance with the bushfire protection criteria which equips you with the ability to safeguard yourself in case of a bushfire. They will also ensure that the bushfire construction shall be compliant with AS3959 and your property will be able to withstand the maximum heat flux as per the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) rating. Therefore, protecting the property from serious damage making the recovery from a bushfire is considerably easier as opposed to a vulnerable construction lacking these measures.