A new website that provides a live feed of bushfire information to West Australians has been launched to give more accurate public safety warnings.
The Emergency WA website contains a map of all emergency incidents that have been reported to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), updated in real time using data from multiple sources. It uses a live feed of triple-zero calls to keep information as up-to-date as possible.
Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said the website would “paint in real time” a map of a fire front, using GPS data from automatic tracking devices attached to fire trucks.
“Rather than having trucks and sector commanders relaying over a busy and sometimes scrambled or confused radio network, where they are, where the fire front is, the Incident Controller will see in a map, in real time where the activity is happening,” Mr Francis said.
“All of that means that you’ll get a far more timely and more accurate picture of the perimeter of a fire.”
Western Australia is facing an above-average fire risk in the South-West and Eucla this season, similar to last year, but with a later start. Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson said the new website would give people living in bushfire prone areas better and more timely information.
The Ferguson review of the fatal Yarloop fire, which killed two people in January, recommended location transmitting devices be attached to firefighting vehicles. Mr Francis said nearly the entire fleet of WA vehicles would be fitted out by the end of the year, especially in bushfire prone areas.
However, he said the government would take its time to design a rural fire service, which was the main recommendation of the Ferguson review.
“It’s not just a matter of cut and pasting what they’ve got in the Eastern states and applying it to Western Australia,” Mr Francis said. “We’re unique, we’ve got different cultures, different histories, different I guess levels of enthusiasm amongst different organisations.
“It’s a challenge but we’ll get there.”
The Emergency WA website will also contain warnings about floods, cyclones and hazardous incidents, as well as prescribed burns. It will amalgamate information from DFES, the Department of Parks and Wildlife and local governments.