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Put Out the Flames
By: Li Wern OOI

Published: 09/09/2011

A report called A Shared Responsibility reveals the cause of the Perth's Roleystone-Kelmscott bush fire devastation earlier this year and ways fires like it can be prevented in the future.

The report was commissioned after the terrible bush fire that affected 517 families on February 6, 2011. The fire destroyed 71 homes and caused severe damage to over 30 other homes in the Roleystone-Kelmscott area of WA.

Western Australia's Fire and Emergency Service Authority's (FESA) review of the bush fire indicates that the fire started on a private property on Brookton Highway, Roleystone. The resident was allegedly operating an angle grinder while doing some metalwork in his home. The report also revealed that over 50 per cent of the homes had evaporative air conditioners, that ignite easily if sparked by embers from bush fires.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s WA office revealed that significant climate change plus the community’s insufficient knowledge and preparation for bush fires made the incident worse. Around the time of the Roleystone-Kelmscott bush fire, WA faced a scarcity of rainfall and high heat waves.

Former Australian Federal Police commissioner, Mick Keelty, commissioned the report that includes 55 recommendations about how bush fires can be handled more effectively in WA. The bush fire report was tabled by Premier Colin Barnett, in Parliament on August 17, 2011.

“One of the key recommendations is for FESA to be restructured to become a Government department,” Mr Barnett said.

Incorporating FESA into the State Government may increase FESA's efficiency and make their communication with other organisations more effective. The breakdown of communication with other organisations is an issue that was raised following the Roleystone-Kelmscott bush fire.

In addition, the report recommends that the Department for Child Protection, WA Police and FESA collaboratively develop better ways to communicate with bush fire victims at evacuation centres about the loss of their homes and possessions.

For more information read the Perth Hills Bush Fire Review.

Image: ponsulak /