Report calls for better fire resources

18 Jan, 2016 01:00 AM
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Photo by Courtney Waller.
Photo by Courtney Waller.

FURTHER collaboration between agencies managing and fighting bushfires was recommended in an independent report last week reviewing the Boddington and Northcliffe fires almost a year ago.

The review found there was "inadequate resourcing" to manage two large bushfires burning at the same time and as a consequence the Northcliffe fire – deemed more significant at the time; was given priority.

It found there were "striking differences in the effectiveness of the management and co-ordination of operations" at the two fires.

There were "some notable gaps" in the Boddington response due to inadequate resourcing of that fire's incident management team (IMT) and as a result, it functioned less effectively than the better resourced Northcliffe IMT.

Key systems, processes and policies broke down, particularly relating to resources deployment and tracking and information communication which "frustrated operations" and "exposed fire fighters and communities to higher levels of risk", the report stated.

Differences in "culture, expertise and approaches" of Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) and local government; combining to manage the fire – contributed to "less than optimal collaboration", it stated.

Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Wayne Gregson said work on implementing the report's three recommendations had started and he called on the State Government and local councils to support it.

The report recommended establishing pre-formed multi-agency IMT with "embedded" common approaches and "further streamlining" of the relationships between IMT, regional operations centres and the State Operations Centre so they worked together more effectively.

It also recommended an integrated inter-agency system be developed to co-ordinate and track fire fighting resources across DFES, DPaW and local government.

The Boddington and Northcliffe fires burnt a total of 150,373ha and destroyed three houses, some sheds, fencing, some livestock and the historic Long Gully Bridge on the Bibbulmun Track.

FarmWeekly

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