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