PRESCRIBED burning can make a world of difference when it comes to fire season.
This was exactly the case during last summer's Bridgetown fire.
According to Department of Fire and Emergency Services South West superintendent Phil Brandrett, it was the cleared areas that helped stop the fire from spreading on the western side of the town.
At the onset of the fire, Mr Brandrett phoned the incident management team to see what their plan was and they were ready to stay.
"They were more than happy to stay there because the western side and the southern side where the fire was coming through had been mitigated within the past three years or even in the last spring," Mr Brandrett said.
"So the fuel all around that building on two sides of it were very reduced, there were less ladder fuels to run up a tree, and the ground fuels were quite sparse and light - if you drive up there, you can clearly see the foliage is still on the trees.
"The western side of that fire basically ran into nothing and went out, whereas the other side, the eastern side kept running in a southerly direction until it was pulled up through native forest and paddocks under very strong winds."
This clear demonstration of smart burns effectiveness is why DFES is reminding land holders of the resources available to refresh and equip themselves for safe and effective planned burns.
With a whole suite of information available to communities, if you want to refresh or become more confident in a certain area, Burn SMART can assist you.
"There are thousands of burns that are successfully undertaken on private properties every year, so we're not saying people are doing it wrong," Mr Brandrett said.
"But it is important the role that mitigation plays, it certainly provides some buffers and lowers fuels for fire escalation and escape."
Burn SMART courses are scheduled for later in the year, hosted by local communities, and for Mr Brandrett's South West region, they will be combined with volunteer training at the same time.
"The station is open, we talk about Burn SMART, about property, having a fire plan and being bushfire ready," he said.
"At the same time as that, or prior, we would do an exercise with the local brigades so at the end of the exercise they've actually been out into their local community.
"It's a stronger message when the volunteer they know is saying we can't get down your driveway, than me in a uniform that they don't necessarily know."
The model used in the South West region has historically been to integrate an operational training exercise with volunteers as it rolls straight into a community preparedness activity where the volunteers stay involved.
"There is more trust and at the end of it, it builds more community resilience, which is what we are all about, they are leading the charge themselves in preparedness and intervention," Mr Brandrett said.
Burn SMART resources include fact sheets, guidelines, checklists, videos as well as discussing the best time for burning, no matter what your vegetation type or area.
"There are fantastic, usable, friendly tools that are all here at their fingertips," he said.
"There is also a checklist which talks about the planning of your burn, before the burn, the day of the burn and after the burn.
"So you make sure you're checking on it, patrolling it, that everything's out and there's nothing that's going to go underground and come up somewhere else."
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