Page 4183 - Week 11 - Thursday, 21 September 2017

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(2) Will the bushfire season in the ACT commence earlier than usual.

(3) What areas of the ACT have undergone back burning to prepare for the bushfire season.

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

(1) The ACT Government is well advanced with preparations including our ongoing hazard reduction burning program, targeted grazing and pre-season training and checks by our ACT Rural Fire Service (ACTRFS) brigades across the Territory.

While a drier than average winter has created potentially hazardous fire conditions, this does not change the way the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) monitors and prepares for every bushfire season.

Each year, the ESA conducts comprehensive pre-season preparations prior to 1 October, being the normal start of the bushfire season in the ACT. The ESA hosts a pre-season brief for all officers, other agencies and interstate counterparts. This year’s pre-season brief is scheduled for 26 September 2017. The ESA also participates in the Bureau of Meteorology seasonal outlook briefs.

In terms of capability, as at 30 August 2017 the ACT has 25 heavy tankers (of which six are compressed air foam tankers), 15 medium tankers, 13 light units, one bulk water carrier, 14 pumpers, six pump trailers, one retardant batching trailer, two helicopters (contracted for the height of the bushfire season), along with heavy plant and support vehicles. All operational vehicles are serviced and equipment regularly tested for operational readiness.

The ESA has over 500 ACTRFS members, over 330 paid firefighters, 150 firefighters in the Parks and Conservation Service of the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, and 13 ACTRFS staff. The ESA also liaises with Commonwealth agencies, including Defence, and has a strong cross border relationship with the NSW Rural Fire Service.

ACTRFS volunteer members continually train in the winter months and work on their skills maintenance. All members are prepared and willing to respond to any incidents that may occur in or around Canberra.

In support of crews and vehicles, the ACT has four fire towers, fire weather analysts, media liaison officers, mapping specialists, communication specialists and a wider logistical and support capability that supports our emergency women and men in the field.

The Canberra Bushfire Ready community education campaign will continue to be used to raise the community’s awareness of bushfire risk and encourage them to plan and prepare for bushfire. Community Fire Unit volunteers also continue to play a key role in both fire safety and community resilience programs managed by the ESA.

(2) At this stage, there is no plan to start the official bushfire season early; however, this will be constantly monitored and reviewed.

(3) The following areas of the Territory have undergone prescribed burning to prepare for the bushfire season: Kama Nature reserve, National Botanic Gardens surrounds,

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