Climate change is causing a significant increase in the number of severe fire weather days (those where the Fire Danger Index exceeds 32), as well as lengthening the fire season by a couple of months. ... See MoreSee Less
While we in WA have had a quiet and fairly benign fire season, it is worth remembering the other side of the continent has been thoroughly clobbered this summer, and they are still dealing with bad fires. ... See MoreSee Less
It has taken a while but we welcome a specialist division within DFES tasked specifically with dealing with bushfire issues.Ideally this will make the community safer in the long term. ... See MoreSee Less
Western Australia is to get a specialist rural fire service in the wake of the devastating Yarloop blaze, but it will be housed within the Department of Fire and Emergency Services instead of being a standalone body.
The BOM is forecasting unseasonably warm weather, and with the Soil Dryness Index hovering around 1700 points, there is still a significant bushfire risk through the rest of April and into May. This will continue until we get a couple of inches of rain all at once, so the community should remain vigilant. ... See MoreSee Less
This is worth reading if you live near the bush but not next to it. What destroyed all the properties in Tathra was embers rather than direct flame. This is the case in most bushfires that destroy property. It certainly was in Yarloop a couple of years ago. Historically approximately 90% of houses damaged or destroyed in bushfires in Australia have been burned down by embers. This means that houses hundreds of metres away from the bush can still be at risk given the right conditions. So how does this work?
All bushfires produce burning embers that are carried by hot convective air in front of the fire front. Embers comprise smouldering and burning leaves, twigs, and particularly bark. In smaller fires these might only travel a few metres, but in big fires on bad fire danger days embers can travel for kilometres before landing. This process is called "spotting". On their own, individual embers are not that much of a risk - it is when lots of embers, called an "ember storm", impact on a building that has already been prepared by radiant and convective heat, that they burn houses down. Ember storms have been recorded igniting houses up to 700m from the fire front. The closer you are to that fire front where the embers are being produced, the worse the risk.
All fires produce radiant (invisible infra-red radiation) and convective (literally, hot air) heat and these dry out flammable elements on the exterior of houses long before the fire gets anywhere near them, and bring those elements closer to their ignition point, making them ready to burn. Then some embers come along and bang, in a process called "piloted ignition" those elements catch fire. Many things that wouldn't normally burn can be ignited through this process. Particularly vulnerable are things like shade cloth, sails, light weight timbers like pine, heavier density timbers treated with flammable stains, any timber treated with CCA (which is highly flammable), and plastics. Embers landing on flammable horizontal surfaces are especially problematic. Many houses have burned down simply because embers have set fire to a flammable door-mat adjacent to a glass door. Embers also burn structures when they penetrate into the flammable exterior - particularly vulnerable are dry hot roof spaces and underfloor cavities. This is why roof-top air conditioners, full gutters and open areas below floating floors are so problematic.
The best way to protect against embers is to eliminate potential ignition points such as stained decking, CCA treated pine, light-weight timbers, and synthetics like shade cloth and plastics. Mature trees around houses with no fuel underneath them (for example, over lawn) also serve as ember screens and have been shown to protect houses from the full effect of an ember storm. ... See MoreSee Less
There were major fires in New South Wales and Victoria over the weekend, with numerous property losses, but luckily no lives lost (so far - fingers crossed). Our sympathies go out to those who lost their homes, but this is also a salutary reminder that the end of summer does not mean the end of the fire season, and that until we get significant rain (ie measured in inches) the danger remains. Hot weather and high winds are forecast for Perth later this week and people should remain vigilant. ... See MoreSee Less
This morning the Brigade put its new 3.4 appliance (3000 litres of water, 4WD) through its paces in a draughting exercise at Piesse Brook. We drew water from the dam and supplied it to our other five appliances, with a total of nine heavy hoses open for over 35 minutes. The 3.4 (and our crews) performed admirably, without ever losing water supply to any other appliance. ... See MoreSee Less