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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 666 ..


grassfire ignitions within or adjacent to the Canberra urban area. While the season remained wetter than average, the increased grass growth and intermediate hot days meant that the risk of grassfires was still prevalent in the ACT community.

Throughout the 2020-21 fire season, the ACT Rural Fire Service and supporting services responded to 41 bushfires and grassfires within the territory. The majority of these fires were located within urban greenbelt areas and surrounding grasslands. Thank you to our dedicated RFS volunteers for their hard work throughout the season and for once again keeping our community safe from the threat of bushfires and grassfires.

As a result of the great work done by rural landholders, land managers and the PCS through slashing, physical removal and grazing, the risk of grassfires was substantially reduced. I would like to thank the community for their diligence in preparedness activities and completing their survival plans.

Since 1 July 2020, the ACT State Emergency Service, ACTSES, has received over 1,300 requests for assistance for significant damage to private residences and businesses across the territory. This is an increase above the yearly average of 800 requests for assistance for the same period, due to the wetter conditions that occur with a La Nina weather pattern. The majority of the requests for assistance were for leaking roofs and water inundation, with a considerable number of fallen trees across the territory and a small number of localised flooding incidents. The ACTSES was kept busy throughout the season, attending to calls across the ACT and making temporary repairs to properties. This is a timely reminder to all Canberrans that whilst the period of heightened storm activity has ended, storms can happen all year round. It is important to remain prepared and know what to do if you become affected by a storm.

This season the ACTSES also provided valuable support to ACT Policing with their search capability, with 17 search activations, an increase from their yearly average of 12. I would like to recognise and thank our hardworking ACTSES volunteers for their dedication and service to the ACT throughout such a busy season.

Whilst the conditions of the season resulted in fewer operational tasks and requests for assistance in comparison with the 2019-20 season, the ACT government has made considerable investments in advancing the use of technology to support preparedness and the response to natural hazards. Technology investments include the installation of pilot fire detection cameras in all four of the ACT fire towers; the pilot of an automated rain gauge alerting for potential flash flooding in Sullivans Creek; and the introduction of the ESA radio positioning platform, which improves the safety of our frontline personnel by allowing real-time viewing of the location of any radio user who has activated the emergency duress button.

Many of Canberra’s streams are in urbanised catchments. Stream water levels can rise in a matter of minutes, giving little warning of the impending danger to lives and property. ACT Healthy Waterways, in partnership with the ACT ESA, ACTSES and the ACT Data Analytics Centre, have developed a flash flood warning capability for the ACT. Using the existing rainfall gauges and streamflow gauges across the ACT,


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