Bushfires are an inevitable part of life in rural areas. Bushfires can happen at any time during the year especially during spring, summer and early autumn and can put properties and lives in danger. The only way to protect you and your property is through early preparation.
How do I prepare for bushfires?
Remove bushfire fuels around your property even if you live in a town or built up area, including in your gutters, eaves and around any sheds and buildings. Wind blown embers can travel a very long distance from the fire front and these embers are the cause of houses burning down across Australia every year.
Sit down with your family and work out a bushfire plan so that everyone knows what you will do if a bushfire threatens. This should include where to go if threatened by a bushfire, will you stay and defend or evacuate and don’t forget to include pets in your plan.
What do I do if a bushfire threatens?
The safest place to be if a bushfire threatens is as far away from the fire as possible, but this only applies if you leave early. Traveling on smoke covered roads is very dangerous and could put you in worse danger so if you can’t leave early, it’s best to shelter in your home. This is where the preparation you undertook in the cooler months really pays off.
Where do I evacuate to?
The Shire has a number of evacuation centres which may be used in long duration fires however due to the speed and unpredictable nature of a bushfire, it may be several hours before one can be set up. The best option is for you to identify a safe place that you and your family will evacuate to and make sure your friends and extended family are aware of the location and that you plan to use it during an emergency.
What about my pets?
Include pets in your bushfire plan but remember that evacuation centres cannot cater for a large number of pets. It is best if you can prepare your home and property so that pets and / or stock have a safe place of refuge such as a cleared area or an eaten out portion of the paddock with a simple shelter. It is important to remember to never cut fences, it will only put stock in more danger and could inadvertently cause car accidents. For more information about horses and bushfires click here.
What are my Legal Requirements?
The Shire of Plantagenet produces an Annual Firebreak Notice which outlines your responsibilities. This is sent to all properties with their rates notice and copies are given to real estate agents to deliver to rentals. The Annual Firebreak Notice is a legally enforceable document. If you don’t comply with your requirements you could be fined or have legal action taken against you.
Please take time to read and understand the Annual Firebreak Notice. A copy can be found here. For any clarification, please contact the Shire on 9892 1111.
Bush Fire Brigades
The Shire’s 11 bushfire brigades are spaced throughout the Shire and have some of the most technically advanced bush fire fighting appliances in the State. It is important to remember that the bushfire brigades, like all of the other emergency services in the Shire, are staffed by volunteers. If you are new to the area, it’s a good idea to meet the brigade so they know who and where you are.
For the Brigade Contact List click here.
Bush Fire Brigade Training
Training courses are offered to all brigade members to help them in their current role or to give bush fire fighters an opportunity to improve their skills. A copy of the training calendar is available here.
Fire Control Officers
Each brigade in the Shire has Fire Control Officers (FCO’s) who are empowered under the Bush Fires Act 1954. Among other things, an FCO has the power to enter a property to inspect fire prevention and hazard reduction activities, instruct a property owner to conduct hazard reduction activities and issue permits to burn during the Restricted Burning Period.
For a list of the Shires Fire Control Officers click here.
Emergency Service Volunteering Information
The community of the Shire of Plantagenet relies upon the dedication and commitment of volunteers for all of its emergency services. Our volunteers take great pride in the work they do and as a result, are held in high regard amongst the community. Not only is volunteering with an emergency service an avenue to learning new skills and challenging yourself, it’s also a great way to meet people.
For information about joining a Bush Fire Brigade click here.
For information about joining the State Emergency Service click here.
For information about joining St John Ambulance click here.
For information about joining a Volunteer Fire and Rescue Brigade click here.
Bush Fire Advisory Committee
The Shire of Plantagenet supports a Bush Fire Advisory Committee which meets quarterly to discuss all fire related matters. The Committee is made up of delegates from each bush fire brigade, the Chief Bush Fire Control Officer and an executive team. For minutes of the Bush Fire Advisory Meetings click here and scroll down to the relevant minutes.
Local Emergency Management Committee
The Shire of Plantagenet also supports a Local Emergency Management Committee which meets quarterly to discuss emergency management and preparedness. The Committee is made up of representatives of all emergency services, Shire staff and support agencies such as Western Power and Main Roads. For minutes of the Local Emergency Management Committee Meetings click here and scroll down to the relevant minutes.
Harvest Bans, Vehicle Movement Bans and Total Fire Bans
From time to time, on days of high fire dangers, the Shire may impose a Harvest and / or Vehicle Movement Ban. When one of these Bans has been imposed, you cannot conduct any harvesting activity or operate any internal combustion engine unless on a formed road or the driveway to your property. To find out if a Ban is in place you can call 9892 1102 for a recorded message or you can subscribe to a free sms service by calling 9892 1111 during business hours. On days with a forecast of Severe to Catestrophic Fire Dangers, a Total Fire Ban may be imposed by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES). This Ban prohibits any activity likely to cause a fire but does not include agricultural activities. To find out if a Total Fire Ban is in place or for more information call the DFES Total Fire Ban Information Line on 1800 709 355 or visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au
Community Education Program
The Shire supports a comprehensive community bushfire education program. In the lead up to and during the fire season, Bushfire Street Meets are held in high risk areas throughout the Shire. When a Street Meet is planned for an area, a sign will be placed on the roadside on a Monday advertising the Meet for the following Saturday or Sunday and either 10.00am or 2.00pm.
For more information please contact the Shire's Community Emergency Services Manager on 9892 1126.