As part of the WA government’s response to the Margaret River fires, between $16-20 million dollars has been earmarked for the region to enhance its firefighting capabilities. The money will be going towards about 16 new appliances, fire shed extensions and the creation of a new fire station in Vasse with up to 30 professional firefighters. Currently, discussions are under way regarding additional funding for Yallingup Rural.
About 50 volunteers, including 12 from Rural, Tuesday, heard FESA Regional Director John Tillman and Capes District Manager, Danny Mosconi explain the government’s plans in response to the Keelty Report on the MR fires.
The other major message from the briefing was that things will not necessarily be different on a day to day basis once the area has been gazetted as a fire district next year. They described the announcements as a great opportunity for the district. Continue reading “Area to see major fire funding increase-funds for Rural under discussion”
By next summer roughly half of the Yallingup Rural area will be part of a new gazetted fire district, according to the Ministerial Response to the Margaret River Fire Enquiry. (see here.) By 2015, the whole area will be part of a new district. Under this new regime, the brigade will no longer have direct responsibility for primary response.
The ministerial statement, released February 23 states: “These gazettals mean that FESA (either through a career Fire and Rescue Service station or a volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Brigade) becomes the hazard management authority within the boundaries of the gazetted district and will have direct responsibility for primary response. Additional fire and rescue capability will result, but additional responsibilities will fall to residents in terms of increases in the Emergency Service Levy for these areas. These increases will commence in the financial year following the implementation date of the relevant fire district……….
“These expanded fire districts will require the allocation of additional fire and emergency resources and the possible construction of additional career fire stations, but all changes will be done in close collaboration with volunteer brigades and local government. The
additional FESA presence complements and does not replace existing volunteer fire units.”
Invitation from FESA District Manager-Capes Danny Mosconi:
Apologies for the short notice but myself and Regional Director John Tillman would like to meet with you and your brigade members to discuss the Keelty Report and in particular the Ministerial Report (see links here.)
All of you will have many questions and the region is keen to provide information, hear questions, answer what we can and consult to progress the issues.
Proposed dates and times for these meetings are as follows; Monday 27th Feb – A/MR Brigades 10am Wallcliffe Station Tuesday 28th Feb – Busselton BFS Brigades 5pm Shire Committee Room upstairs
If you and your brigade members could attend it would be appreciated. Feel free to attend either of these meetings. At the end of all visits I will attempt to collate all questions and answers so that those who are not in attendance can have some information regarding the changes.
DISTRICT MANAGER CAPES
Local MLA and Emergency Services Minister, Troy Buswell, was quoted Thursday as saying Yallingup, along with Busselton and Dunsborough, will receive a significant increase in firefighting resources as they become incorporated into a gazetted fire district.
According to the Busselton Dunsborugh Times, Buswell said “This is in recognition of the risks posed in our area by fire, and we will be working through the details, and engaging with the City of Busselton and local fire brigades.”
In response to the Keetly Report on the MR fires (see previous post) the WA government has said new access roads will be urgently considered for Prevelly, Yallingup, Gracetown and the College Grove area, providing reasonable and alternate evacuation routes in the event of future bushfires.
The problem of deadend roads in the MR region and the threat they cause to lives was highlighted during public hearings after the November fire.
The WA government has agreed to a recommendation of the Keelty report that there be independent oversight of the inhouse enquiry looking into the response operation of last November’s Margaret River Fire. Specifically, recommendation nine states: “The response operation to the Margaret River bushfire in November 2011 be the subject of a review with independent oversight.” The scope of the Keelty Enquiry was limited to the cause of the fire. At the start of the enquiry, Mick Keetly told Margaret River residents that FESA would be carrying out its own internal enquiry into the fire.
The full text of the report is available here. The government’s response is here.
The Report produced 10 recommendations and the government has agreed to implement all 10. One is that DEC review its prescribed burns procedures to fully utilise the skills available to it including volunteer bushfire brigades, especially in regard to use as a source of local advice;
and FESA. Another calls for the establishment of a new Office of Bushfire Risk Management, which will be responsible for signing off on all DEC prescribed burn plans. It will report to FESA chief executive Wayne Gregson. It has also been recommended that any level 3 bushfire, defined as a complex fire in which life and property are at risk, will automatically fall under the overall control of FESA. Also DEC has been instructed to temporarily suspend further burns within 5km of town sites and rural subdivisions until a complete risk assessment is undertaken.
The report also recommends DEC conducts research into the fuel management of coastal heath in the south west, exploring alternatives to burning as well as best practice for burning.
The West Australian report is here and the ABC report is here.