I am a retired professional fire fighter and am in contact with many other retired firefighters. Generally, we cannot recall losing property to fire in the manner that we do now.
Yes, there was property damage and some sheds and fences were lost, but rarely this level of devastation.
The argument that there is a bigger population living in the bush now is not the issue. There were always houses in bush locations and there were far fewer firefighters with older equipment.
In the earlier days, when the organisation was called the WA Fire Brigade, the employees were all career fire fighters, from a probationer right up to the chief officer.
However, the government in the late 90s formed the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA), where the upper structure of the brigade could be run by senior government bureaucrats. As time went by, we had some people above those on the fire grounds that had come from other government departments.
By passing a test, they could now be in charge of major fire incidents.
It would be an interesting study to find out how much property was lost to bushfires under the old metropolitan fire brigade in its 100-year history, compared to the 14 years of FESA management ” now called the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES).
Another question: Why did they remove the word Authority from its title and replace it with department?
Maybe we need to return to fire incidents being managed by senior administrators who were professional fire fighters.
Mt Helena Fire Volunteer Bushfire Brigade members would like to thank all those who gave us so much support during the bushfire.
We were really moved by the spontaneous gestures and assistance received for so many in the local community.
Thanks to those who brought sausage rolls, cakes and other food and drinks. And for those who provided massages to our tired bodies.
What you did was appreciated and reminded us of why we live in Mt Helena.
SINCE 1991, when Australian standards for building in bushfire-prone areas were created, I believe lobbyists from the building and insurance industries have worked tirelessly with Federal, State and local governments to ensure Bush Fire Prone Areas (BFPA) are not declared in Australia.
Not declaring such areas has allowed millions of homes to be built in bushfire-prone areas that do not confirm with fire-safe regulations.
To comply with the standards, building costs would go up by $20,000-$70,000 per home in these areas.
Our home was built before 1991 and would not be compliant. However, we have three levels of self-contained water systems to protect our home and copper pipe sprinklers on the roof.
Political incompetence or mismanagement over the past 23 years by successive governments has failed to protect family homes by not declaring Bush Fire Prone Areas or implementing the Australian standard for building codes.
Taxpayers will now be hit with increased FESA levy and insurance premiums to cover up government mistakes.
In the meantime, houses and lives will be lost to Australian bushfires.