Firies commended

By Grace Jones | posted on June 17, 2019

THE City of Albany and Shire of Denmark have praised the efforts of volunteer fire brigades from last week after more than 20 fires sparked up due to severe weather conditions.

Dry and gusty northerly winds last Thursday mirrored conditions from 12 months ago when more than 50 fires swept across the Great Southern and caused devastating damage
to properties.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Superintendent of the Great Southern Wayne Green said emergency services responded to 13 fires in the City’s jurisdiction and 10 fires in the Shire’s jurisdiction last Thursday.

“Burning off is an important tool in mitigation and is an effective way to reduce bushfire risk,” he said.

“Private property owners are responsible for mitigating bushfire risk on their own land, in close consultation with their local government.”

City Manager of Rangers and Emergency Services Tony Ward said all fires were brought under control within a matter of hours.

“Fire fighters responded to 18 call-outs across Wednesday and Thursday last week and did a great job in containing and controlling all incidents,” he said.

“The first call on Thursday came in around 5am with a steady rate of call outs throughout the day.

“All bushfire brigades were back in station around 10pm that night.”

Shire President Ceinwen Gearon praised the efforts of newly appointed Chief Bushfire Control Officer Lez Baines and his quick reaction to the fires.

“We are very lucky to have an immensely dedicated group of individuals willing to volunteer their time to keep us all safe,” she said.

Earlier last week, both the Shire and City announced that due to the severe forecast conditions they would be enforcing Section 46 of the Bush Fire Act 1954 that prohibits the lighting of open-air fires and required any existing burns to be extinguished.

On the City website it states people in breach of similar bans could be issued with penalties of up to $5000.

Mr Green said during prohibited burning times it was an offence under the Act to light a fire in the open air.

“Local governments are responsible for issuing burning permits and following up any breaches,” he said.

Mr Ward said no penalties were issued to residents who were in the process of burning off during the ban, as “they were happy with the way the community responded” and most residents were quick to cooperate and extinguish their fires.

“Generally residents did the right thing and extinguished fires or held off from lighting new ones,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to reach everyone and some fires were lit well before the weather event forecast.

“Given the conditions were similar to 2018, I think residents had this in mind this year and were far more aware of their responsibility.”