Bushfire season: WA prepares

WA’s bushfire season is upon us with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and volunteer bushfire brigades carrying out a number of prevention and harm reduction strategies to prepare the state for the October to April season.

A spokesperson for the DBCA said: “The department undertakes prescribed burning at certain times of the year as the primary means of reducing fuel and, therefore, the risk and impact of bushfires on the community and the environment.

“Pre-season preparedness checks are also made in readiness for bushfire response and suppression over the summer period.”

As of July this year, 436 prescribed burns were planned across WA between 2021 and 2022 to reduce potential fuel load.

In the southern part of the state, these are carried out during autumn and spring while pre-season preparedness checks are also complete prior to the summer period. 

Perth city with smoke haze

Smoke haze from prescribed burns across WA in October 2021. Photo: Alex Govan.

This year, Emergency WA adopted new bushfire warning colours, including yellow for Advice and orange for Watch and Act, while Emergency Warnings remain Red.

These new colours and icons made WA consistent with the Australian Warning System used in other states and made it easier for the public to understand warnings, regardless of where they are in the country.

Australian Warning System Colours and Icons
The Australian Warning System colours and icons: Advice (Yellow), Watch and Act (Orange) and Emergency Warning (Red). Screenshot from: Australian Institute Disaster Resilience website

Earlier this year, a bushfire beginning in near Wooroloo, just an hour east of Perth, burnt through more than 10,000 hectares, destroying 86 homes.

East Swan Volunteer Bushfire Brigade member Robert Dittmer said: “That fire there was probably the fastest moving bushfire I’ve seen. It made its own weather and it moved so damn fast.

“A few younger members had not seen anything like this before.”

The 32 active volunteers at the East Swan brigade have cooperated with DFES to carry out prescribed burns, as well as running group and street meetings to ensure residents are prepared in the case of an emergency this bushfire season.

“We are as prepared as we can be. We’ve got another large air tanker, which will be here during this year, and we’ve got a couple of new helicopters coming in,” Mr Dittmer said.

Bushland recovering from Bushfire
Bushland near Gidgegannup showing signs of recovery following February’s Wooroloo bushfires. Photo: Alex Govan.

With summer just around the corner, a spokesperson for Department of Fire and Emergency Services said: “All it takes is for one hot and windy day for a bushfire to rapidly escalate and threaten life and property and everyone needs to take the time to prepare for bushfire season.

“Having a bushfire plan will help you take action and avoid making last-minute decisions that could prove deadly during a bushfire,” a spokesperson said.

Bushfire plans can be created using or through the My Bushfire Plan App.

A few pieces of advice and tips from DFES include:

  • Prepare your home and clear the immediate area around it by pruning trees, cutting long grass, clearing gutters and removing rubbish.
  • Install a mesh guard on your evaporative air conditioner and block any gaps under floor spaces, in the roof and under eaves to keep sparks and embers out.
  • Have an emergency kit ready to go in case you are evacuated or cut off during a bushfire, including essential supplies such as a battery-operated radio.
  • Reach out to local networks including Bushfire Ready Groups to learn about planning and preparing for bushfires.

The National Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for summer is expected to be released by DFES in November and will highlight the expected conditions for WA’s bushfire season.

Up to date information on incidents and bushfire warnings can be found on the Emergency WA website

This article should not be used as a guide. Please refer to the DFES website for more up to date information on preparing for bushfire emergencies.