Following the fires in the Albany region in May. the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) sent the following letter to DFES:

RE: MAJOR INCIDENT REVIEW OF MAY 2018 GREAT SOUTHERN FIRES

The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) appreciates that it might be some time before answers to the following questions become available but believed it prudent to write sooner rather than later and risk missing an important deadline.


Sponsor's message

To be clear, we assure you that we understand and accept that the review may justifiably take some time to begin and to date, have no concerns about its timing.

We believe there were more than 70 Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades from various parts of WA in attendance over the course of the incident and therefore urge the review process to be as open, accessible and inclusive as possible, culminating in the publication of the full report.

The AVBFB also strongly asserts that it is in everyone’s interest for the Terms of Reference to frame the Review in a way that encourages outcomes focussed on sharing knowledge and learning for the future rather than attributing fault.

With that in mind, the AVBFB humbly requests the following information as soon as possible so we can give our stakeholders ample time to participate:

  1. What are the terms of reference of the review?
  2. Who is undertaking the review?
  3. How can the AVBFB and its members make submissions to the review?
  4. Will the submissions and full report be made public?
  5. What are the Review’s key dates (opening/closing dates for submissions, expected completion date, publication date etc)?

Yours faithfully…

Sponsor's message

Soon after, DFES replied to explain that:

…the Office of Bushfire Risk Management will be undertaking a review of the pre conditions to the City of Albany fires. This review will not include incident response/management. The Terms of Reference for this review are still being finalised for approval by the Commissioner.

With regard to the incident response, this will be subject to Post Incident Analysis as per DFES Policy 54.

We followed up with an email to ask for as much information as possible to be sent as soon as appropriate and subsequently received the Terms of Reference for the “Review into contributing factors that led to planned burn escapes on 24 and 25 May 2018 in the South West and Great Southern Regions of Western Australia”.

We have included some of that document below:

The review will consider whether management actions leading up to the severe weather event were adequate and whether current mechanisms to mitigate the risk of planned fire escapes are adequate.

The terms of reference for the review are to examine and report on:

(a) The availability and effectiveness of information available to the public and, land owners and land managers who were responsible for burns that escaped in the South West and Great Southern Regions on the 24 and 25 May 2018.

(b) The effectiveness of land owners’ and land managers’ burn management and risk mitigation activities prior to the 24 and 25 May escapes.

(c) The governance arrangements available and in place for land owners’ and land managers’ to manage planned burning prior to the severe weather on the 24 May.

(d) Adequacy of legislative provisions to manage planned burns and the extent to which these provisions are understood by agencies, local governments and their representatives.

(e) Available measures that could practicably and effectively assist in managing the risk of escape for future planned burning activities by land owners and land managers’ in Western Australia.

The final draft report will be independently reviewed by an industry expert prior to being provided to government in late September 2018 via the Executive Director Rural Fire Division and Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner.

We note that the review will be focused on both the South West and Great Southern Regions which DFES has explained is “to understand what worked well as much as what didn’t work well in lead up to the severe weather event.”

The full Terms of Reference document is available on the OBRM website here:

 

https://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/waemergencyandriskmanagement/obrm/Documents/ToR_Review_of_planned_burn_escapes_SW_and_GS_Regions_of_WA_May_2018.pdf

 

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