New campaign warns of danger in ignoring bushfire risk

Department of Fire and Emergency Services

Western Australians living near areas of bush, scrub or grasslands will be reminded of their responsibility to prepare for bushfires this summer with the launch of a new bushfire awareness campaign by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and the State Government.

The campaign is running across television, radio, print, online and outdoor advertising and is targeted towards areas considered most at risk in regional, urban-fringe and metropolitan areas.

One of the biggest concerns DFES has coming into this bushfire season is the complacency shown by Western Australians when it comes to recognising their personal risk, and preparing themselves and their property before a bushfire threatens.

The campaign addresses complacency with some hard-hitting facts about how a bushfire can impact you:

  • Fire can travel up to 25 kilometres an hour* and send burning embers flying for kilometres, sparking new fires.
  • Fire can rip through bushlands in minutes and leap across any highway in WA.
  • The heat radiated from a fire can shatter windows, melt tyres and burn your skin from just 100 metres away.

Western Australians are urged to visit firechat.wa.gov.au and take just five minutes to have a Fire Chat with their family, housemates or neighbours to determine what they will do if a bushfire threatens.

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM joined Minister for Emergency Services Fran Logan MLA at Bold Park on Sunday 2 December to launch the new campaign.

Commissioner Klemm highlighted one of the key campaign messages that there will never be as many fire trucks as there are houses to remind people they must discuss what they will do in the event of a bushfire and not rely on the emergency services to be at their front door to protect them.

‘Our firefighters do an exceptional job; they are on the front line battling the blaze, risking their lives trying to hold it back and get on top of it before it gets worse,’ Commissioner Klemm said.

‘There are 1,728 operational fire trucks in Western Australia and over one million houses so you can’t wait for them to show up at your door.

‘Your safety is your responsibility, so sit down with your loved ones and work out what you will do if there’s a bushfire in your area.’

Residents living in or near bushland need to begin preparing themselves and their property now to ensure they are ready for the hot, dry and windy conditions summer brings.

DFES recommends you:

  • Prepare your property and clear the immediate area around your home by pruning trees, cutting long grass, clearing your gutters and removing rubbish.
  • Install a mesh guard on your air conditioner and block any gaps under floor spaces, in the roof and under eaves to keep sparks and embers out.
  • Use the five-minute Fire Chat and/or Bushfire Preparation Toolkit to decide on your bushfire plan and enact it early to avoid making last minute decisions that could prove deadly.
  • It is also recommended you have an emergency kit ready to go in case you are evacuated or cut off during a bushfire including essential supplies such as a radio, spare batteries, torch, first aid kit, woollen blanket, water and non-perishable food.

*During the Esperance fires in 2015, a recording showed fire raced across the landscape at up to 25 kilometres per hour during the peak of the catastrophic fire conditions.