TINDERBOX

South-coast com­mu­ni­ties have been put on alert, with au­thor­i­ties warn­ing of big­ger and more fre­quent bush­fires this sum­mer.

Albany Extra - - Front Page - Tim Ed­munds

Re­silience is a word which has a strong mean­ing for the Shire of Cran­brook.

Hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced nu­mer­ous emer­gen­cies in the form of bush­fires and even a dan­ger­ous wind storm in re­cent years, the Shire’s fo­cus on emer­gency preparedness was last week recog­nised at a State level.

The Shire was recog­nised with the Re­silient Aus­tralia WA Gov­ern­ment Award for its Spring Into Preparedness: Fam­ily Fire Safety pro­ject, aimed at ed­u­cat­ing and em­pow­er­ing fam­i­lies in the Great South­ern to pre­pare for and build their re­silience to emer­gen­cies.

In­cluded in the pro­ject was a door knock in Cran­brook, Fran­k­land River and Ten­ter­den late last year to pro­vide res­i­dents with Green Means I’ve Gone bags, which con­tained in­for­ma­tion sheets to pre­pare for the bush­fire sea­son.

The pro­ject was made pos­si­ble with $15,000 in grant fund­ing through the All West Aus­tralian’s Re­duc­ing Emer­gen­cies pro­gram and in­cluded a num­ber of com­mu­nity ini­tia­tive ac­tiv­i­ties.

Shire of Cran­brook emer­gency ser­vices and recre­ation of­fi­cer Toni Melia said in­ci­dents in 2015, which in­cluded a mi­croburst from a storm caus­ing wide­spread dam­age, was the cat­a­lyst in the Shire de­vel­op­ing the pro­ject.

She said the Shire was proud to re­ceive the award.

“The re­sponse to the pro­ject has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive,” she said. “We are a small Shire, so to go up against much larger lo­cal gov­ern­ments and win was very pleas­ing.

“It will be an on­go­ing pro­ject and bags will be given to new res­i­dents.”

This De­cem­ber will also mark 15 years since the dev­as­tat­ing Ten­ter­den bush­fire.

Ms Melia, trag­i­cally lost her mother Lor­raine Melia, 46, in the 2003 blaze, which also killed Ju­dith Ward, 59, de­stroyed five homes, 15,000ha of pas­ture and crops and 15,000 stock.

The Ten­ter­den bush­fire was sparked by clash­ing pow­er­lines on the 42C day, with West­ern Power later fined $17,500 by the State Coroner af­ter find­ing the util­ity caused the fa­tal fire.

“It is one of the rea­sons why I got into emer­gency man­age­ment,” she said.

“I’m very pas­sion­ate about the com­mu­nity be­ing pre­pared. Emer­gen­cies can hap­pen at any time and it’s im­por­tant the com­mu­nity have an un­der­stand­ing of things like alert lev­els.

“We have come a long way as a com­mu­nity but there is still plenty of work that can be done.”

Pic­ture: Lau­rie Benson

Shire of Cran­brook emer­gency ser­vices and recre­ation of­fi­cer Toni Melia and chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Northover with the Shire's bush­fire pro­gram award.

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