App to combat bushfires

Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenMidwest Times
DFES Supt Craig Smith with the mybushfireplan app.
Camera IconDFES Supt Craig Smith with the mybushfireplan app. Credit: Elise Van Aken/The Geraldton Guardian

People in the Mid West have been warned to prepare for bushfire season as the effects of La Nina are felt across the country.

And a new app is available to make the process easier.

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre published its seasonal bushfire outlook last week, finding grass and crop fires will be an area of concern over summer.

The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook: December 2020 to February 2020 will be used by fire authorities to make strategic decisions such as resource planning and prescribed fire management to reduce the impacts of bushfire.

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DFES Mid West Gascoyne Supt Craig Smith said the La Nina weather pattern would bring some rain to the region, but vegetation boosted by this would dry up in the coming hotter months.

“So we’re looking at a bushfire season, but as far up as Carnarvon we’re looking at potential for cyclones, which brings a tropical low which will cause a flood and feed that vegetation,” he said.

“We will have some wind-driven grass fires right throughout the region that can cause a lot of damage. In reality it only takes one hot and windy day to create a bushfire that causes a lot of damage.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services mybushfireplan app.
Camera IconThe Department of Fire and Emergency Services mybushfireplan app. Credit: Elise Van Aken/The Geraldton Guardian

“Everyone should reduce fuel loads on properties, prune trees and cut grass, clean gutters and remove rubbish and make sure they have an emergency kit for if they do have to leave their property.”

Supt Smith said he recommended everyone living in and visiting the region to visit the mybushfire plan website or download the app, which helps create a customised family bushfire plan.

He said the two bushfires that wreaked havoc on Geraldton last year showed rural residents were not the only ones at risk.

“It just takes five minutes to put that plan together and everybody will be safer,” he said.

“People need to make a decision before the fire when they’ll leave, what they’ll take with them, and where they’ll go. In a stressful situation they can easily be very well prepared.

This year is different as we have a lot more people travelling locally, we have a lot of people in the region who normally wouldn’t be around.”

The La Nina weather pattern occurs when equatorial trade winds become stronger.

La Nina years tend to see cooler-than-average maximum temperatures but the increased cloud cover acts as an insulator and results in warmer minimum temperatures.

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