Bushfire season is not far away. It’s time to prepare, act and survive. As this booklet says, it could save the lives of you and your family this bushfire season. The question is asked: ‘How can I increase the chance my house will survive a bushfire? What should I do when a bushfire is coming? Is it possible to defend my house from a bushfire?’ We know only too well in my electorate. As members of this chamber know, the South West had one of the most devastating bushfires in the region with the Yarloop bushfires in January last year. The heavy rains over the winter mean that, in spite of our wonderful bushland and forests, this has increased the fuel load, and this is especially dangerous when it comes to the bushfire season. We saw the Yarloop fires claim the lives of two local people. There were well over 100 houses destroyed, and the community is still trying to recover.
I don’t want to see this happen again, so I want to encourage people to act now. Each one of us has a key role to play in making sure our communities and our own properties are prepared. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has made this vital tool kit, encouraging people to prepare, act and survive. You need to write down a plan and prepare what you and your family need to think about. Where will you go if you need to go to a safer place? Know where you will go and never just wait and see.
Does your household include elderly relatives, young children or people with disabilities or illness? Where and when will they be relocated? Who will care for them? Do you need to consider anyone else in your plan—housemates, neighbours and friends that you might need to help? What will you do with your pets and your livestock? Just walk around your property or your home, assess it and prepare for a fire. Look for the things that could burn or where embers could start a fire. Install a stainless steel, open-weave mesh cover across your evaporative air conditioner.
If you take these measures, you won’t be putting our amazing volunteer and professional firefighters at risk. They do an amazing job at protecting us. Mostly, as I say, they are volunteers in the South West of Western Australia, and they did just an extraordinary job. The whole of the region, all of the volunteer firefighting groups, contributed to that response in Yarloop. But, if we all prepare and act, we can take far more responsibility ourselves. That’s why I’m encouraging everybody in the South West and right around this country, in the run-in to summer, to prepare, act and survive and make sure that you do everything you can to reduce the risk for our amazing volunteer fire and emergency services.