Fire safety short­fall

Eastern Reporter - - Front Page - Sarah Brookes

WITH sum­mer just days away, nearly 90 per cent of schools des­ig­nated as bush­fire prone have not had ex­tra pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures in­stalled to re­duce the risk of a fire spread­ing in­side a school dur­ing a bush­fire emer­gency.

In May, WA Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Sue Ellery an­nounced $6.75 mil­lion would be in­vested by the State Gov­ern­ment to equip 222 schools with em­ber screens on eva­po­ra­tive air­con­di­tion­ers to guard against em­bers dur­ing a bush­fire.

The screens were a rec­om­men­da­tion of the Keelty re­port into the Ro­ley­stone-Kelm­scott fire in 2011 that de­stroyed 71 homes.

In State Par­lia­ment last week, Ms Ellery ad­mit­ted of the 223 school sites iden­ti­fied for the in­stal­la­tion of em­ber screens as part of the 2018-19 pro­gram, only 29 sites had had the em­ber screens in­stalled and 33 sites were in progress.

East Met­ro­pol­i­tan MLC Donna Faragher said the work should have been com­pleted or be close to com­ple­tion.

“These are im­por­tant pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures and

the Min­is­ter needs to en­sure they are com­pleted as soon as pos­si­ble and prior to the start of the 2019 school year,” she said.

Ms Ellery said it was an­tic­i­pated that the 2018-19 em­ber screen pro­gram would be com­pleted by the end of Jan­uary 2019.

“The list of sites is sub­ject to change as de­tailed on-site in­spec­tion may re­veal that no, or fewer, em­ber screens are re­quired at a site,” she said.

A Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion spokes­woman said it worked closely with the Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices to iden­tify schools that were in bush­fire prone ar­eas.

“DFES up­dates their reg­is­ter quar­terly, so there are now 419 schools in the spec­i­fied risk ar­eas,” she said.

An above-av­er­age fire risk re­mains in place this sea­son for parts of WA, in­clud­ing the Dar­ling Range, South-West and Great South­ern, ac­cord­ing to the 2018 South­ern Aus­tralia Sea­sonal Bush­fire Out­look.­mu­ni­ d488849 Pic­ture: David Baylis

Suzanne Perry, Doreen Rees and Jan Oliver pre­pare for the Lions Ave­ley Car­ols by Can­dle­light on De­cem­ber 1.

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