Welcome to the website for the Bushfire Front Inc (BFF) of Western Australia.
The BFF advocates better management of fire in WA, especially on forested lands, to reduce the impact and severity of bushfire damage.
This sort of conflagration is what we are trying to avoid!
This was Victoria in February 2009, which resulted in the loss of over 170 lives, but the same thing could so easily happen here in several parts of the South West of the State.
Our focus is mainly on the South West part of the State, although there are extensive areas of land outside that zone that also have severe fire management problems and from time to time we will also draw attention to those.
We are practical bushfire specialists, with hundreds of years’ accumulated experience in preventing bushfire damage to people, property and forests. Each of us has worked in bushfire prevention, bushfire science, fire control planning, administration or operations, some of us for over 35 years.
The standard of fire management in WA has declined to a dangerous level. Unless urgent action is taken to improve it, WA is headed for a major fire disaster, and one much worse than the 2010 Toodyay fire that destroyed 38 homes.
We came perilously close to a Canberra-style disaster in the Perth Hills in 2005. We learnt nothing from that event, so we had the 2011 Roleystone disaster, and then, soon after, the Margaret River fire. In 2014 another damaging bushfire occurred at Stoneville. In 2015, we saw major bushfires in forest country at Boddington and Northcliffe. The latter caused huge damage to beautiful regrowth karri forest. The total area of those fires was almost as great as the area burnt in the 1961 fire disaster, as this graph shows.
And this is just for the Southwest forest area. A similar pattern exists for the rest of the State, but those data are not available to us.
It is clear from the increasing area and severity of bushfires over the last 10 years or so, that the State’s current approach to fire management is failing and needs major restructuring. While some recent advances have been made in fire management on crown lands in the Southwest, we continue to see large and damaging bushfires on private land and in the agricultural zone. In this website we draw attention to the problems and propose changes to address the real needs of rural fire management.
While we can improve the situation with better planning, better coordination between agencies and more on-ground resources, all it needs in WA is the right combination of severe fire weather and the high fuel loads now common in the South West and we could have a disaster of Victorian magnitude on our hands. We can’t control the weather but we can control the fuel loads – but it is not happening to the extent necessary.
The BFF has made a major submission to the Ferguson Inquiry into the Yarloop/Waroona fire. See About/ Recent Activities of BFF/ 2016 Ferguson Inquiry Submission. We have also made a proposal for a fundamental overhaul of bushfire management in Western Australia. See Opinion/Restructuring Bushfire Management in WA.
The Ferguson Report was released by the State Government in late June 2016 Euan Ferguson is to be commended for an excellent report that, if implemented, will greatly improve the standard of fire management in WA. See more at Opinion/ Landmark Ferguson Report.
Western Australia stands at a crossroads. We have a bushfire management system that has demonstrably failed. The State Government has had a comprehensive review by an expert in the field who has recommended major changes. We call on the Government to accept the major recommendations and act promptly to implement them.
See our response to the Ferguson Inquiry at Opinion/BFF Response to Ferguson Report.
This website provides:
- An overview of fire management problems in Western Australia.
- Comment on the recently released Ferguson Report into the Yarloop bushfire.
- Information on the severity and impact of some recent bushfires in WA.
- A source of scientific information on bushfire management in forested land in Western Australia.
- Up to date news on important fire management issues facing the State on both private and publicly owned land, including identification of dangerous “hot spots”.
- An account of activities of the Bush Fire Front aimed at improving the standard of fire management in WA.
- Descriptions of the value of prescribed burning (fuel reduction burning) in reducing bushfire damage.
- A glossary of fire management terms.
- A commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the disastrous 1961 fire season, including details of our book Tempered by Fire.
Note: We use acronyms such as CALM (Department of Conservation and Land Management), DEC (Department of Environment and Conservation), and FESA (Fire and Emergency Services Agency). Some text refers to CALM instead of DEC as the matter being discussed occurred when the agency had that title. The same comments apply to FESA, which changed to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) in 2012. DEC has now become the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW).
Please browse through our website and realise the need for action, then support us by putting pressure on the State Government to address the situation.
enjoy ….. – and be informed