Planning essential: bushfire chief

Wanneroo chief bushfire control officer Phillip Hay. The Wanneroo Volunteer Bushfire Brigade will be at the Wanneroo Show this weekend to provide information and recruit members. Picture: Emma Reeves www.communitypix.com.au d411548
Wanneroo chief bushfire control officer Phillip Hay. The Wanneroo Volunteer Bushfire Brigade will be at the Wanneroo Show this weekend to provide information and recruit members. Picture: Emma Reeves www.communitypix.com.au d411548

Phillip Hay, who oversees five firefighting brigades in the City of Wanneroo, said there was plenty of fuel for potential bushfires, particularly grass.

‘All our bush and our grassland is ready to burn unfortunately,’ he said.

‘We had a lot of rain in a short period.

‘We haven’t seen this much grass fuel in well over 20 years.

‘The grass fires this year are our biggest risk.

‘We have got areas where we had fires last year that have had grass through them.’

Mr Hay said anyone who lived near bushland or grassland, even those on residential blocks that had grass on them, needed to have a bushfire plan.

‘We need property owners to clear up around their houses now,’ he said.

‘We are saying ‘Planning to have a plan is not having a plan’.’

The bushfire chief said the risk covered the whole of the City of Wanneroo, and beyond to Lancelin and Gingin.

‘We have potential for fires to run kilometres this year,’ he said.

According to Mr Hay, activities that could potentially spark fires included slashing grass, whipper snippers, lawnmowers, dirt and quad bikes, campfires and illegal four-wheel-driving in foreshore bushland.

He said firefighters and local authorities, including police and the City of Wanneroo, had contingency plans if fires started but needed residents to do their part.

‘We have had a number of fires already ” some accidental fires,’ he said.

‘Someone was burning off on the weekend when they weren’t supposed to (after fire restrictions started on November 13).’

Mr Hay said although they had been burning in a small drum, it sparked a fire that caused $50,000 damage to a shed on the Carabooda property.

He said another recent fire in Gingin burnt through 100ha in less than an hour.

‘We can’t really stress enough to people to have a plan,’ he said. ‘Our volunteers are 24/7 ” they will leave their families on Christmas and New Year’s to be there.

‘We have done a lot of mitigation work on council-owned reserves ” now it is up to private landowners.’

For advice on protecting properties and updates on fires, Mr Hay said residents should visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website, www.dfes.wa.gov.au.