ENVIRONMENT Minister Bill Marmion has allowed the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to resume prescribed burns within five kilometres of townships and rural subdivisions.
Mr Marmion said the decision followed a review by the Office of Bushfire Risk Management (OBRM) of DEC's proposed risk management systems and processes for its spring prescribed burning program.
The OBRM determined DEC's spring program conformed to the international risk management standard ISO 31000 - a standard DEC would adopt consistently as its new policy for all prescribed burning.
"Recommendation two of the report of the Special Inquiry into the November 2011 Margaret River Bushfire was that DEC should urgently undertake a review of its risk management practices as they relate to prescribed burns to ensure such practices are in accordance with the international standard for risk management AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009," Mr Marmion said.
"DEC, through the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, engaged consultants with expertise in risk management to assist it with the review of risk management, particularly an analysis of DEC's prescribed burning processes against ISO 31000.
"On the basis of the work done to align DEC's risk management processes with ISO 31000, and the importance of prescribed burning in addressing bushfire risk in WA, OBRM supported the lifting of the five-kilometre suspension on prescribed burning.
"I am pleased to report OBRM has approved DEC undertaking its spring prescribed burning program in accordance with the agreed procedures.
"The plan includes 171 burns totalling 152,000 hectares."
Mr Marmion said under DEC's new systems and processes, the department would prepare maps showing potential impacts of an escape for every prescribed burn.
These maps would depict rates of spread under a severe fire danger rating.
These rates of spread would be updated in the event of an escape to take account of prevailing weather conditions.
Burn prescriptions will now contain contingency plans and responses based on a range of burn escape scenarios indicated from these maps.