Volunteers and staff praised for Great Southern firefighting efforts
Media Statement from Hon Francis Logan BA (Hons) MLA
- Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan has praised the efforts of firefighters, the City of Albany and DFES personnel
- Minister and FES Commissioner toured Albany region on Tuesday
- Met with City of Albany, DFES and DBCA staff, and volunteers to learn firsthand the scale and response to the Great Southern fires
Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan has described the response to the Great Southern fires as a first-class example of emergency services and local government working together to combat an emergency situation.
Mr Logan and Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm visited Albany yesterday (May 29) to see firsthand the damage caused by the Great Southern fires, and to discuss the response with the local authorities.
The pair heard how volunteers worked tirelessly through last week battling more than 50 blazes that had escaped from private property, in the lead-up to the weekend's emergency situation.
The Minister and Commissioner also met with Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions staff to discuss the prescribed burns in Torndirrup and the Stirling Ranges, which will be reviewed by the Office of Bushfire Risk Management.
The City of Albany outlined how the city and volunteers had managed the fire with support from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services before handing control to the agency as hundreds of volunteers from the Great Southern, South-West and metropolitan area helped battle the blazes.
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Director General Mark Webb also joined the Minister and Commissioner on the trip, and travelled to the Stirling Ranges to meet with those affected by the prescribed burn.
Comments attributed to Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan:
"This was an awful period for the people near the city of Albany and for those farmers next to the Stirling Ranges, but it could have been worse without the tireless efforts of our volunteers, emergency services and the City of Albany.
"I heard about unprecedented winds that nearly blew volunteers off their feet, and caused water from the hoses to spray sideways.
"The City of Albany, the local emergency agencies and the volunteers have done a first-class job in beating these fires.
"Considering the winds and very uncommon weather conditions, it is a testament to the management, collaboration and skill of everyone involved that it was not any worse.
"A 20-year veteran firefighter, who had battled catastrophic fires such as Yarloop, Esperance and Margaret River, told me the conditions were the worst he had ever experienced as they were blinded by the dust and could barely see beyond the headlights of their cars.
"There are questions still to be answered and I understand some people's frustrations, but everyone involved, including private land owners and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, were trying to do the right thing by reducing dangerous fuel loads.
"But unfortunately their efforts combined with extreme and unusual weather conditions put crews to the test.
"We must continue with our efforts at bushfire mitigation and learn from any mistakes by all those involved, but the people of the Great Southern should take some comfort in knowing that they have emergency services volunteers and management structures in place that are first-class."