Better bushfire readiness as summers get hotter: Greens

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Greens would fight to create a fully independent rural/bushfire service for volunteer firefighters to deal with mitigation, bushfireresponse and to support local governments in building regional community resilience as the threat of bushfires intensify into the future.

The Greens will also lobby for an extra $20million over four years to manage bushfire mitigation to prepare for more catastrophic bushfireseasons using local knowledge from community experts in bushfire prone areas.

On the eve of another looming bushfire season, coupled with a long winter, the Greens have warned increased fuel loads and record breaking summer temperatures caused by climate change means we need to be better prepared for bushfires.

Greens candidate for Murray-Wellington and firefighter Callum Burwood, said of the $320million collected from the Emergency Services Levy (ESL), 90 per cent goes towards administration and just 10 per cent to actual emergencies.

“Firefighters want more bang for their buck with the ESL. We need more of the levy to be put back into the community and build resilience, not fear. We need to reduce fuel loads with prescribed burns, nationally accredited training, and better equipment for firefighters,” he said.

“If we can’t stop fires, we’re going to have to get better at minimising their impacts in the face of hotter summers caused by climate change.

“The Liberal Government also has ignored calls for a rural fire service, completely independent of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and they must start listening to the experiences of volunteers who understand their own backyards.”

Greens candidate for South West Diane Evers said regulating housing developments in bushfire areas was one element of a range of preventative measures to keep people and their properties safe from bushfires in extreme weather.

“More attention needs to be paid to where developments are allowed to take place,” she said.

“We know that climate change is making our bushfires worse, with extreme weather conditions that fan fires in rising temperatures.

“But we must also be smarter in where we live because our fires are becoming more extreme and catastrophic as each year break a new hottest on year record.”

Face box:

  • The rural/bushfire service aims to support local government in mitigation and response efforts, and provide the resourcing and training that volunteers have been crying out for.

The Greens (WA) will:

 

  • Fight to see the recommendations of the Ferguson Inquiry into Yarloop implemented;
    • The creation of an independent rural/bushfire service
    • Quarantine more funding from the Emergency Services Levy towards on the ground services, support and mitigation to better reflect all components of the “Planning Preparation Response Recovery” model;
    • Increase mitigation and support to the Department of Parks and Wildlife to enable evidence based preventative measures
  • A mandatory additional $20 million over four years allocated to bushfire mitigation, including to DPAW and local governments to enable sound prevention measures to be achieved;
  • Replace mandatory burn quotas with evidence based, hazard reduction to reduce fuel loads at appropriate times in bushfireprone areas in metro and regional WA;
  • Establish a parliamentary committee to ensure consultation across all parties
  • Boost resourcing to properly recruit, train and equip our Volunteer Bushfire Brigades, and provide the opportunity to train volunteers to national standard to provide better support to local governments;
  • Fit for purpose off road vehicles for volunteer brigades;
  • Campaign to increase the numbers of career firefighters and ground services in WA to meet the increasing risk of bushfires caused by Climate Change;
  • Establish a public community - centred education campaign focused on community empowerment and early warning training;
  • Improve early-warning systems, including Social Media, SMS and telephone alerts and re-establish local community fire sirens to residents in affected areas;
  • Community centred emergency education and communications of bushfire risk;
  • Regulate developments in high-bushfire-risk areas and put the onus of bushfire requirements back on developers;
  • Create communal public safety areas and support retrofitting of existing public and community buildings to AS3959-2009 standards in high-risk areas;
  • Provide funding to the Department of Parks and Wildlife to establish a Centre of Excellence devoted to research and development of an evidence base on the most effective method of fire management in different eco-regions such as Banksia woodlands and Jarrah forests, as well as undertaking research on the effect of bushfires on local flora and fauna species
  • Develop a coordinated and comprehensive WA State Climate Change Risk Assessment and Adaptation Strategy which outlines key responsible agencies, deadlines for actions and associated budget in line with best practice and;
  • Support the cost savings identified by Indigenous hunting burning through opposing the closure of remote communities
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