What is the City doing to mitigate the fire risk?
The City undertakes a range of fire prevention measures throughout the year in preparation for the summer bushfire season. Extensive bushfire risk mitigation works were undertaken across Cockburn’s 23 suburbs in 2018-19 in readiness for the current summer period. In 2019-20, the City invested $280,000, including $110,000 in State Government Emergency Services Levy grants, plus $170,000 of its own funds, in fire mitigation efforts. In 2020-21, the City has a $210,000 fire mitigation budget with $70,000 already spent, and the rest for work starting this autumn once the weather cools.
In 2019, the City undertook extensive bushfire mitigation works, including:
- Pruning, removing, mulching trees/vegetation encroaching firebreaks at Denis De Young, Mather and Kraemer reserves in Banjup, around Banjup Community Centre, Baler Reserve in Hammond Park, Lake Coogee, Market Garden Swamp, Little Rush Lake, Yangebup Lake and Banksia Eucalypt Woodland
- Cleared 8km of shrubs from overhanging old firebreaks to ensure they were compliant
- Undertook hazard reduction burns on State, City and private property – 25ha successfully burnt with no fire escapes
- Installed seven new fire access gates and audited all existing gates ensuring they open and keys provided to fire fighters
- Undertook other work in conservation reserves as detailed below under 'Conservation Reserves'
- Undertook extensive hazard reduction burns
- Inspected the City’s conservation reserves to ensure fire truck access standards were met.
- In 2019 the City received over $100k in grant funding from the State to undertake mitigation works.
The City is currently undertaking the following in order to mitigate fire risk over the hot summer months:
- Continuing to inspect private properties for firebreak compliance
- Working with state agencies to ensure the land they manage within Cockburn is mitigated against bushfire risk
- Responding to illegal burns
- Working with Police to identify possible arsonists
- Assisting DFES in fire response
- Deploying staff and trucks to regional fires within WA; Stirling Ranges and the Wheatbelt
- Sent four volunteers over-east to assist with the fires
- Assisting with local and regional fires
- Ensuring the Jandakot Brigade complete the transition into the new fire station
- Finalising a regional Local Government MOU to provide mutual support during an emergency
- Commencing the planning of our autumn burning and mitigation funding.
Firebreak maintenance on City owned land, and inspections on private property
In conservation reserves managed by the City, firebreaks are maintained and generally exceed the standards as required by the Bushfires Act and Council by-laws. Firebreak maintenance on City-owned property/land was completed by 30 November, 2019. The City’s residential and commercial verges are classified as priority 1, priority 2 or rural, and this is determined by traffic volume on the roads. Priority 1 areas are mown four times a year, and rural and priority 2 areas are mown twice a year. Works are scheduled so verges are mown after the winter rains and before firebreak season in November and usually before Easter.
The majority of the City’s reserves, particularly in the resource and rural areas, have limestone fire breaks. DFES has complimented the City on this initiative. Similarly, areas of Roe 8 have had limestone firebreaks installed using Main Roads WA funding. In 2019 we constructed over 4km of new limestone firebreaks within our reserves.
Firebreak inspections of private property commenced in November 2019 and are ongoing. There were high levels of compliance within the rural areas, which shows strong community understanding of the impending dangers from bushfires through summer. Since November 2019 we have issued 48 infringements relating to failure to comply with our Fire Control Order. Most of these infringements were issued to owners of blocks within residential areas.
Fuel load assessments
Fuel load assessments are undertaken regularly in conservation areas. Fuel loads are consistent with those expected within bushland areas as detailed in the FESA May 2012 Visual Fuel Load Guide.
High priority sites
High priority sites are identified annually and controlled burns undertaken if resources and weather conditions permit. Controlled burns are undertaken only if sufficient funds are available to undertake two years worth of follow up weed control.
Areas deemed to be high risk are inspected in September each year. Additional fire mitigation measures are undertaken in high priority areas to reduce risk. More than $171,000 of DFES funds have been spent in high priority areas in Cockburn for 2019/20.
The City undertakes extensive weed control in reserves. Veldt grass is one of the major contributors to fuel loadings, with weeds being a major contributor to bushfire fuels. Weeds can increase the fire intensity level, reducing access for fire fighting and causing a more extensive area of bushland to be burnt, This causes damage to native vegetation structure because of the high intensity of the fire. Bushland Maintenance staff also undertake extensive weed control within conservation areas.
Budgets for 2019/20
- Veldt grass control budget -$106,500
- Total contract weed control budget for all reserves - $190,186.
The Landowner Biodiversity Conservation Grants are open to rural residents and can be used to fund weed control on private property. The grants open in August and close at the end of October.
A Fire Response Plan exists for most of the conservation reserves within the City and have recently been reviewed and updated. Plans are reviewed every two years and are issued to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Department of Parks and Wildlife.
The City’s Natural Area Management Strategy identifies a number of actions to minimise fire risk in natural areas. This helps to ensure that fire mitigation practises are consistent throughout all our reserves.
The City is currently participating in a 20 year study with Kings Park to determine the benefit of weed control on previously burnt sites.
For more information contact the City's Fire and Emergency Management area on 08 9411 3444 or email.