Fighting Bushfires Relies on Vast Community and Multi-Agency Experience

Recent calls for bushfire control and management to be solely handled by career fire-fighters is short-sighted and misguided (The West Australian, 4th April 2016), says Toni Walkington, Branch Secretary of the State’s public sector union, the CPSU/CSA. 

“There are fundamental differences between managing bushfire fuels and fires across a complex landscape, and dealing with structural fires within a defined area.

“Handing responsibility to an agency with very limited training or experience in rural bushfire management doesn’t make sense and would put many more lives at risk,” she said.

The fires in Esperance and in Yarloop/Waroona brought home the immense difficulties in managing fire and fire fuels across the West Australian landscape under extreme fire conditions and the importance of drawing on the skills and experience of many people across our community.

These include local governments and local volunteers who know their local patch, scientists and land managers who understand the landscape, fire fighters from across these disciplines and locations. 

Ms Walkington says each year the windows for fuel management are narrower.

“Fire seasons are becoming longer and more treacherous. Yet, thanks to Barnett’s cuts to the public sector, there are fewer people with the skills and experience available to put their lives at risk to protect lives, homes, farms, businesses and one of the world’s most bio-diverse environments.”

The State Government needs to invest in more practical outcomes that will improve our ability to fight fires including a standardised inter-agency fire management system and training more staff to fill specialised bush fire related roles.

To download the CPSU/CSA’s submission to the Public Inquiry into the Waroona Bushfire – click here

Waroona Fire Inquiry follow-up submission - attachment 1 & attachment 2

To read the original article this statement is in response to – click here


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