Emergency services ready for fire season

District officer Darryl Ray with communication systems officer Janine Blacklow. Pictures: Matt Jelonek        www.communitypix.com.au d445015
District officer Darryl Ray with communication systems officer Janine Blacklow. Pictures: Matt Jelonek        www.communitypix.com.au d445015

THE sound of sirens and the sight of flashing truck lights were common place over the 2014-15 fire season.

Emergency services dealt with a record 4000 fires across WA last year and are preparing for another busy period.

Fighting fires is a highly co-ordinated task.

Most of the behind the scenes work happens at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ Emergency Services Complex in Cockburn Central, which opened in late 2012.

Deputy Commissioner Lloyd Bailey said most of the action took place in the state operations centre (SOC), a NASA-style control room used to co-ordinate responses to many emergencies and hazards across WA.

The room features space for a range of state departments, including child services, WA police and Parks and Wildlife.

There is even a seat for the facility’s meteorologist and four screens with up-to-date information on jobs around the State, fire hotspots and vehicle locations.

With summer approaching, much of DFES’ time and resources will be put towards eliminating fire threats.

“It’s handy to have all the departments in one room,” Mr Bailey said.

“It makes it easy to bring everybody up to speed on what’s going on.”

An adjacent office called the metropolitan operations centre can go live if necessary, but is used most often during storms.

Next door is the communications centre, a department overseen by district officer Darryl Ray. This is often the first point of call for the public ringing through a triple-0 emergency.

The facility is also home to the State Air Desk, a room used to coordinate aerial suppression equipment including water bombers.

Mr Bailey said the building was a considerable improvement over DFES’s old base in the City.