Bushfire risk heightened
Record low rainfall and a dry winter has raised the Lower South West’s threat level heading into the bushfire season.
The warning comes following the release of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC’s Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook: August 2019.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services Lower South West superintendent Phil Brandrett said people should not be complacent following the recent rain in the region.
“Bushfires are a real threat to our region, as we saw with the recent Lewana fire – now is the time to prepare,” he said.
Supt Brandrett said factors leading to the higher bushfire risk heading into spring included Australia experiencing one of its driest winters on record – year-to-date rainfall likely to be the lowest since 1970 – and soil moisture being below average.
From September to November, the Bureau of Meteorology has predicted below average rainfall, warmer than average temperatures, low stream flows caused by low rainfall and increased fire risk across southern Australia.
Supt Brandrett said despite this increased risk, emergency agencies, local governments and volunteers were preparing for the upcoming bushfire season.
“We’re training and exercising with DBCA, local governments and volunteers, reviewing regional interagency agreements and testing regional operations centres systems and processes,” he said.
He said DFES was also holding pre-season stakeholder briefings involving preparedness and resourcing for equipment such as water bombers and helitacs.
“We also support volunteer emergency responders as they refresh skills in preparation for the bushfire season and are planning local bushfire preparedness events for the community,” Supt Brandrett said.
With everything emergency crews were doing to prepare for the bushfire season, Supt Brandrett also urged the community to prepare their homes.
“One of the most important things you can do is have a Five-Minute Fire Chat with your family,” he said.
“When will you know to go, where will you go and which way will you go are important questions to ask.”
People are also urged to clear the area around their home by pruning trees, cutting long grass, clearing gutters and removing rubbish.
Supt Brandrett also people to block any gaps under floor spaces, in roofs and under eaves to keep sparks and embers out.
“We recommend you have an emergency kit ready to go in case you are evacuated or cut off during a bushfire.,” he said.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a hard copy of the Bushfire Preparedness Toolkit or information about upcoming bushfire preparedness events.
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