Page 310 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2006

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(3) Why does it take more than the local Bush Fire Brigade agreeing that the current situation (on Cooleman ridge) is very serious in order to have some preventative measures undertaken;

(4) Why has the fire trail constructed two years ago been allowed to decay to the point that it is no longer visible;

(5) Why has the small amount of slashing that has taken place been minimal and ineffective in reducing fire hazards that have built-up in the area;

(6) How many complaints regarding fire hazards have been made to the Emergency Services Authority during (a) 2004-05, and (b) 2005-06 to date;

(7) Have all of the complaints for (4) above been rectified by having the hazards removed; if not, why not and how many reported hazards remain to be removed.

Mr Hargreaves: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) The extent of heavy grass growth reflects the heavy spring rainfall in 2005. This level of rainfall and subsequent growth was not present in January 2003, where the Territory was in drought in the preceding months

(2) Fuel Management activities for Weston are detailed in the Bushfire Operational Plans (BOP) for both Urban Services and the Chief Minister’s Department. They are evaluated on a strategic basis across the Territory. Prior to the 2005/06 bushfire season the risk did not exist – grass was green and growing, not long and dry. The Emergency Services Authority (ESA) is working closely with land managers from these Departments to ensure the programs are achieved as well as identifying and addressing any significant fuel management issues.

(3) In the context of bushfire mitigation across the Territory as a whole Cooleman ridge is important, but strategically it is not critical. Mitigation work is prioritised and preventative measures, including slashing of the urban interface and fire trails, as well as rock picking to increase the slashable area are identified in the approved BOP for Cooleman Ridge, prepared by the Chief Minister’s Department. These works were identified in the draft BOP for the area which was developed in July 2005, well before the heavy spring rainfall, and will be carried out in the near future.

(4) In 2003-04, trails were slashed and maintenance works of trails was undertaken on Coolemen Ridge. Significant spring growth has covered the trail and slashing is to be undertaken by the Chief Minister’s Department under the 2005-06 BOP.

(5) It is unrealistic and ineffective to expect all long grass across the Territory to be slashed on a regular basis. A significant amount of strategic slashing has already been undertaken by the Chief Minster’s Department on Cooleman Ridge. This was completed consistent with the requirements of the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan (SBMP). The standards (ie: amount and frequency) in the SBMP are based upon a sound understanding of bushfire behaviour to allow the safe deployment of fire fighters and allow property owners to undertake protection of their properties, but it cannot be emphasised enough for the need of property owners to ensure they have undertaken effective prevention and preparatory works within their boundary.

(6) (a) 44 inspections resulted in a hazard being identified and a notice issued during 2004/05.

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