Prevention the cure

Emergency services are encouraging West Australian’s to be better prepared for this year’s bushfire season.

This follows last year’s bushfire crisis in NSW, which left 1.5 billion animals dead.

Australia’s 2019/20 bushfire crisis statistics: Shenaye Northam

State Emergency Services president Greg Cook says their role is to support fire fighters and the community during the bushfire season.

“It’s a priority of preservation of life, fire is a great and immediate hazard.” he says.

Mr. Cook also says COVID-19 adds an extra barrier in the community’s preparation for the fire season, but will not affect SES aid to the public.

“We still had to turn out if necessary, our activities were broadened,” he says.

He says during Perth’s stage 1 lockdowns, the SES were part of the roadblock to restrict travel and provided telephone services.

“We’re always out there to serve the community, that’s 365 days of the year.”

Tree tops. Pic: Shenaye Northam

Bushfire consultant Roger Fenwick says residents who conduct burn-offs will reduce the fire fuel load, therefore be better prepared to fight fires.  

“It would have taken 10 times as long to cover… distances if you’d had a mosaic of burning fuel loads but it just spreads at an unbelievable rate,” he says.

He says fire damages the soil, and it can take up to twenty years for plants to be able to regrow.

“A seed from somewhere… it lands on the ground and says ‘ok well I’ll start growing’… the trouble is there’s no nutrients available,” he says.

Director of South Australia Bushfire Solutions Brett Stephens says his business helps better prepare his state for the bushfire season by clearing up vegetation.

“A lot of our work is risk assessment, plans… advising on bushfire risks,” he says.

He says people can prepare better by managing and cleaning up vegetation around their property.

“Do your preparation work and stop expecting the fire agencies to be there for you,” he says.

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