Bush Fires & Property Protection

The business of bush fires and managing your property to better protect against one is a complicated matter. There is a lot of information to know which is why the Shire has been working on creating some useful fact sheets for community members in relation to preparing your property to protect it in the event of a bush fire. 

Asset Protection Zones

Creating and maintaining an Asset Protection Zone (APZ) is one of the most effective things you can do to reduce your risk in a bush fire. 

An APZ is:

A zone created between the bush and your property which will reduce the risk of your house and/or assets being damaged or destroyed by direct flame or the intense heat that is given off during a fire. 

An APZ serves to:

Reduce the liklihood of hot embers (that can be carried by the wind during a bush fire) from igniting items that can burn on or around your home and/or assets. Additionally a well maintained APZ can provide a safer and more accessible area for you and/or firefighters to defend your property. 

Maintain your garden:

The guidelines set out in the following Fact Sheet have been set out by the WA State Government for property owners. They specify recommendations for the spacing and height of vegetation. Small variations in spacing and height will occur dependent upon the type of plants you have, your exposure to the wind and the slope of your property. Refer to the figures in the Fact Sheet for a visual guide.

Asset Protection Zone Fact Sheet

For further information on Asset Protection Zones please contact the Shire of Gingin on (08) 9575 5100. 

Fuel Loading

Excessive fuel loads pose a direct threat to life and properties. Whilst fuel loading maintenance isn’t required under the Shire’s Fire Break Orders, it is still the responsibility of the owner and/or occupiers to manage fuel loading to reduce your bush fire risk as per the Bush Fires Act 1954. In most cases this means maintaining fuel loading in natural bush areas to 8 T/Ha (or less) and implementing an Asset Protection Zone (APZ) around habitable dwellings (the latter being required under the Shire’s Fire Break Orders).

Given the complicated nature of fuel loading, the Shire has prepared a handy fact sheet for community members to utilise which includes instructions on how to calculate your fuel load and other useful information. 

Fuel Loading Fact Sheet

Road Verge Slashing - who is responsible? 

In terms of the slashing of road side verges and who's responsibility it is, the Shire of Gingin can clarify the following: 

  • Residents are not liable for their own verges and will not be prosecuted if the verge isn’t maintained.
  • For safety reasons the Shire will slash one mower row width from the edge of the road seal as a minimum and may slash to the fence line if time and resources permit and if practical.
  • Residents are encouraged to mow/slash/maintain their verges for added fire safety (but do so at own risk, e.g. it is important to wear personal protective equipment and be traffic aware, etc. while undertaking any work)
  • The only liability to a landowner is if you do not install and maintain your fire breaks in accordance with the Shire’s Fire Break Orders.

The Shire is under no obligation to slash any verges within its district and it is not possible to do to the fence line for over 923km of roads throughout the district. However, for ease of line of sight and other safety reasons, the Shire will undertake as much verge side slashing as it is capable of doing annually prior to the commencement of the fire season. The Shire may also vary where it does slash annually dependent upon the fuel load levels within the verge. It should further be noted that: 

  • Roads act as 7m wide fire breaks. With the addition of 1m slashing either side of the road, this then becomes 9m. 
  • Vegetation in verges is also important for providing shelter for local wildlife and to create windbreaks which protects against wind erosion. 

For any queries in relation to your obligations (or the Shire's) please contact the Chief Bush Fire Control Officer on 0408 943 576

Bush Fires in the Shire

When a fire is initially reported via a triple 0 call, the appropriate local fire brigade within the Shire will be contacted by Triple 0 responders and asked to go to the scene of the reported fire to investigate.

From that point forwards, the Shire will take command of the fire and generally, most local bush fires will be extinguished by local brigades. However, in the event that a fire has grown in size to a particular level that exceeds local fire fighting resources, then the Department of Fire & Emergency Services (DFES) will take command. In the event that this occurs, DFES will handle the public communications for the emergency. Members of the public wishing to find out information should: 

The Shire will assist DFES in communicating updates to the public. Generally this will be through the Shire's Facebook page. Other services may also be affected by the bush fire and in the first instance, the public should contact the responsible agency directly, i.e. Western Power (power outages), Mainroads WA (road closures), Telstra (phone/internet outages), etc. 

CAUTION - In the event of a emergency (such as a bush fire, flood, storm or other type of emergency), information obtained from private individuals may not be accurate. In the first instance refer to DFES and and then the Shire. The Shire will always relay updates from DFES when they are in command of the fire fighting effort.

We also recommend that the public stay off social media during an emergency unless it is to look for updates or ask a question of DFES or the Shire. Much of the information circulated via private community pages can contain inaccuracies that if heeded, could put your life in serious jeopardy. Please ensure that first and foremost, you refer to www.emergency.wa.gov.au

Shire of Gingin Offices

Gingin

7 Brockman Street
Gingin WA 6503

T: (08) 9575 5100

F: (08) 9575 2121

E: mail@gingin.wa.gov.au

Lancelin

255 Vins Way
Lancelin WA 6044

T: (08) 9575 5155

F: (08) 9575 2121

E: mail@gingin.wa.gov.au

Yued Country Moore River Region