Firefighting services focused on protecting South West communities

On the front line: Bunbury Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade secretary and firefighter Michelle Guerin, captain Terri Kowal, and firefighter Pat Kane. Photo: Thomas Munday.
On the front line: Bunbury Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade secretary and firefighter Michelle Guerin, captain Terri Kowal, and firefighter Pat Kane. Photo: Thomas Munday.

Despite experiencing a relatively quiet bush fire season so far, South West firefighters are working around the clock to keep communities safe. 

The brigades are tasked with responding to emergency situations, conducting fire hazard reduction burns, providing fire prevention advice, and helping to combat major fires outside of their districts.

In the Greater Bunbury region, groups such as the Bunbury Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade are working to train their members. 

The brigade gained six new recruits towards the end of 2018, taking the total number of members to 30. 

Back in business after the Christmas/New Year break, the group conducts training sessions and vehicle maintenance checks each week.

“We keep up our training and our skills, waiting for the call,” Brigade captain Terri Kowal said. 

“Volunteers are the backbone of any community, a lot of things can’t happen or operate without them.

“We work well with the career firefighters as well as the fire and rescue volunteers, we all know each other.

“It’s also good to meet volunteers from other areas in the region, and compare how we do things to how they do things.” 

The Leschenault Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade is one of many groups responsible for protecting people within the Shire of Harvey.

Leschenault brigade captain Michael Papalia asserted the importance of training sessions, maintenance procedures, and education. 

“It’s frustrating whenever the volunteers, who have given up their time to go out and do a job, find out – once they get out there – that the equipment isn’t operating,” he said. 

Capel, Boyanup, Elgin, Peppermint Grove, and Gelorup’s bush fire brigades –  about 70 volunteers – all operate within the Shire of Capel’s jurisdiction. 

The shire’s Chief Bush Fire Control Officer, Chris Scott, strives to maintain communication between the brigades.

Mr Scott urged community members to help the brigades by following all fire prevention procedures.

“The public need to be educated on fire safety,” he said.

“Their first defence should revolve around making their properties safe...people should make their blocks/farms as fireproof as possible.

Have a family discussion, asking: ‘What are the trigger points for us to leave?’” 

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