Concept Paper: Review of the Emergency Services Acts. Closing Thursday 31 July 2014

As per message below, everyone is invited to comment of the Review of the Emergency Services Acts. 437 Stakeholders have had input so far, not one of them an environmental or community group, or individual. Please take a few minutes to comment. Of particular note is Section 3.21 Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Asset Protection Zones. This proposes a single set of rules for all bushfire prone areas, with legislation to override all other concerns, be they environmental, local planning or otherwise!

Just a quick reminder that the public consultation period for the Concept Paper: Review of the Emergency Services Acts will be closing on Thursday 31 July 2014. This will conclude a 15 week opportunity for the Western Australian community to be involved in the development of the new emergency services legislation.

Thank you to those of you who have already taken the time to provide comment on this important document.

The Concept Paper proposes options to deal with issues identified from feedback you provided during the first two stages of consultation. This is your chance to review those options and apply your knowledge to how they will work.

Western Australia has diverse emergency services. From the types of hazards, to the physical environments and the people involved in the organisations and groups who respond to the needs of the community. We need your knowledge to help build effective, modern emergency services legislation.

If you have not yet reviewed the Concept Paper you have until the end of the month as the consultation period closes at midnight 31 July 2014, comments MUST be submitted before this time. Click here to access the Concept Paper.

Your knowledge could be the difference. Share yours now!

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DFES seeking help on new Energency Services Act from emergency service volunteers and personnel

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has recently launched a new project to review our current emergency services acts (the Fire Brigades Act 1942, the Bush Fire Act 1954 and the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1998) and create a single comprehensive Emergency Services Act which will improve community safety and better support all of our emergency services workers into the future.

Extensive consultation with internal and external stakeholders is a vital part of this review. The project is currently in the information-gathering stage, and the legislation review team is seeking help from emergency services volunteers and personnel to identify areas in our current legislation which could be improved. By consulting extensively, the team is hoping to draw on the knowledge and experience of emergency services volunteers and personnel across agencies and across the state to ensure the legislation is fully informed by the people who are the key to making it work. With your input, it is envisioned that the Department can develop world-leading emergency services legislation to support us all in our common goal – community safety.

To begin the review process, DFES invites you to consider which parts of the Fire Brigades Act 1942, Bush Fires Act 1954 and Fire and Emergency Services Act 1998 are working for you, which parts are not, and whether you consider anything is missing from the legislation which could improve community safety and/or better support emergency services volunteers and staff. The review team would then ask you to please share your thoughts with them using the comment form which can be found below or alternatively by emailing us directly at Alternatively, if you are a member of a volunteer association you may wish to forward your feedback to the association who will collate responses on behalf of members. The review team appreciates that the emergency services volunteers are a valuable source of information on how the current legislation works or doesn’t work for us, and we thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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Changes to Shire of Manjimup Fire Notice

The notice is available here.

Deborah commented “It looks like it is now not compulsory to clear live standing trees around our area and for outbuildings we only have to keep away all flammable materials within 20 metres.

On the legal side it looks like a win for us and the tourism industry.”

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Premier’s Circular 2012

There has been a brief flurry of activity around Building Protection Zones, starting with the Premier’s Circular, issued 3rd September 2012. This states that the policy on Building Protection Zones is:
In an effort to improve the State’s preparedness for bushfire, all public sector bodies and entities listed in Schedule 1 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994 are encouraged to implement or improve existing Building Protection Zones (BPZs) around their critical assets in high bushfire risk areas. 

It then goes further at times to say that private property owners are encouraged to implement or improve BPZs. It does not hint at these being mandatory or regulated.

Close on the heels is Troy Buswell’s Ministerial Media Statement of 7th September 2012, titled “Time for community to prepare for bushfire season“. This references the flawed and inconsistent Keelty Review into the Perth Hills Bushfires.
It also states
Evidence shows creating a circle of safety around a home or a building is an important step towards reducing bushfire risk and has a proven track record of saving lives and properties during a bushfire.
It is untrue to say that this will save lives in Western Australia, where this statement is supposed to apply. In fact there is evidence that a circle of safety would NOT save lives. No lives have been lost in WA in homes in bushfires since records began in 1850. The eleven lives that have been lost are mostly in vehicles.

As usual, policies from the Eastern States are being applied to Western Australia without due care and consideration. Perhaps Perth will soon have to plan for flooding in the same way as Brisbane.

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Pemberton Update

Several recent articles and letters in the Manjimup-Bridgetown Times have been uploaded to the Documents page of this site. At the Shire of Manjimup meeting on April 12th 2012, the Shire resolved that landowners defer action on tree removal for the current notice pending resolution of the issue in next year’s notice. The full minutes are available here, and the appropriate motion here.

Deborah has started a petition requesting the Shire of Manjimup to remove the requirement in the Building Protection Zone “B: Tree crowns are to be a minimum of 10 metres apart”  from the Firebreak & Fuel Hazard Reduction Notice 2011-2012 and any further notices.

A copy can be printed from here: Pemberton Petition April 2012, and it is also posted at the Pemberton Post Office and Pemberton CRC.

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Article in Busselton Dunsborough Times

An article has been published in the Busselton Dunsborough Times on 30th March 2012 titled Bush Backlash. Several community members were interviewed, and Greg Simpson at the City of Busselton would welcome a bushfire prevention forum, if there was enough interest!

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There is a need for balance in the discussion on bush fire protection. There is a lot of concern about the danger of bush fires, particularly in the wake of the Margaret River and Perth Hills fires. However there is little attention paid to the actual risk, particularly to lives, which is surpringly low.

On one side is the risk to life and property posed by bush fires. On the other is the cost of bush fire mitigation, to the environment & biodiversity andthe impact on lifestyle of those that live in the bush in time and money.

By defininition, bush fire risk can be eliminated by eliminating the bush. That we choose not to do this recognises that the bush is valuable, and a balance is required.

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