BUSHFORE PROTOCOL

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FOR MOST UP TO DATE INFORMATION ON BUSHFIRES VISIT:
Trail Closure:

The following information has been extracted and adapted from the Department of Parks and Wildlife advisory note ‘Parks & Wildlife Closure Protocols for National Park and Recreation Site due to Fire Danger Rating’.

 

Western Australia has adopted a nationally agreed Fire Danger Rating scale to help communities understand information about bushfire risk.

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Every day during the fire season the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecasts an outlook of the fire danger index by considering elements of the predicted weather including temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and dryness of vegetation. State fire agencies, in consultation with the Bureau, then consider a range of other factors relating to that area to set the Fire Danger Rating. Factors include the length of time the fire danger index has been elevated, the extent of the fire already in the landscape, fuel and dryness and the likelihood of weather events such as lightning.

 

The designated Bureau of Meteorology weather forecast districts relevant to this bridle trail are:

  • District 22 Leeuwin

  • District 23 Nelson

 

Fire Danger Ratings are communicated to the wider community through weather forecasts, newspapers, radio, TV and on websites, including:

  • Department of Fire Emergency Services website www.dfes.wa.gov.au and emergency information line 13 DFES (13 3337)

  • ABC and local commercial radio stations

  • The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions - Parks and Wildlife Service website  www.dpaw.wa.gov.au

 

In relation to parks and recreation sites managed by The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions - Parks and Wildlife Service, a list of closed parks will usually be provided on the Parks and Wildlife website www.dpaw.wa.gov.au and through the general and social media during the day before the forecast Very High to Catastrophic Fire Danger Day.

 

On days of Catastrophic Fire Danger Rating, all parks and reserves managed by Parks and Wildlife identified as significant bushfire risk will be closed.

 

On days of Extreme, Severe and Very High Fire Danger Rating the majority of parks should remain open. However, there are exceptions where parks will be closed including: where an area is identified as high bushfire risk; where existing fire suppression commitments reduce response capacity; and on any day with a Total Fire Ban.

 

It is strongly recommended that people do not ride the bridle trail if the Fire Danger Rating is Very High or above.  This approach is in line with recommendations for the use of other long distance trails in WA, such as the Bibbulmun Track and the Munda Biddi Trail.

 
Fire Survival Measures:

The following guidance has been adapted from information on the Munda Biddi website (www.mundabiddi.org.au), which is based on advice from the Department of Parks and Wildlife. This advice should be followed in the event of a bushfire emergency whilst on the bridle trail.

 

For all emergencies contact Emergency Services by dialling 000.  The Police are the agency responsible for search and rescue in WA. They will usually involve the Department of Parks and Wildlife in searches on the trail.

 

Radiated heat:

Radiated heat can kill you if you are unprotected from an intense fire burning in heavy fuels or caught in front of a fast-moving fire. Fire intensity is affected by the amount and type of fuel available to the fire and is greatest at the head of the fire. Radiant heat travels in straight lines. You can protect yourself by having a barrier between you and the fire.  Use any means that will shield you from radiant heat.  To protect yourself from radiant heat:

  • Cover all exposed skin with materials made from natural fibre (e.g. wool, drill cotton). Synthetic materials burn easily and should be avoided except as a last resort.

  • Find refuge in a vehicle that is parked away from heavy fuels, in a house, behind logs or rocks, in holes made by fallen trees, or in deep wheel ruts.  Dig a hole or a trench if the soil is soft.

Survival in a vehicle:

Should you be in a vehicle and trapped in a bushfire, statistics and research show that the vehicle offers you the best chance of survival, provided you follow these basic rules:

  • Select an area on which to park the vehicle that has the least amount of flash fuels (leaves and small branches which burn quickly and intensely). Where possible use road cuttings, large logs or similar objects to protect the vehicle from the oncoming fire. This will also provide you with extra protection against radiant heat.

  • Use any available time to remove flash fuels from the immediate vicinity of the vehicle, but do not exhaust yourself in doing so.

  • Do not attempt to back burn or burn down-wind.

  • Turn the hazard lights on, and keep the motor running to avoid vapour lock.

  • Ensure all windows, doors and vents are shut to keep out smoke, heat and burning embers.

  • Set the air conditioning to recycle.

  • Remain outside the vehicle for as long as possible, using it as protection.

  • When it becomes impossible to remain outside, enter your vehicle quickly on the lee side.

  • Protect yourself from radiant heat by remaining on the floor and covering your body with a blanket or rugs, floor carpets, etc.

  • Remain in the vehicle for as long as possible.  The flaming or flash period rarely exceeds 5- 10 minutes in a forest fire or 2 minutes in a grass fire.

  • Exit on the lee side and take care not to touch the outside of the vehicle.

  • Contrary to popular belief fuel tanks do not just explode.  Even in the worst situation it will be some minutes before the vehicle catches fire and the heat becomes intolerable.  Remember, those few minutes will probably save your life.

Escape routes without a vehicle:

If caught without a vehicle in a bushfire, follow these guidelines:

  • Remain calm, never try to outrun a fire.

  • Individuals must be encouraged not to break away from a group.

  • Don’t run, but cycle/walk/ride briskly if there is a clearly indicated way of escape.

  • Use any hills or elevated sites to determine where the fire is and the direction it is taking.

  • Seek bare or previously burnt ground, e.g. gravel pits, clearings, roads, beaches.

  • Move across slopes and out of the path of the fire.  Do not run

Seeking refuge without a vehicle:

If you get caught without a vehicle in a bushfire, follow these guidelines:

  • Seek bare or previously burnt ground which provides a buffer between you and heavy fuels.

  • Excavate a depression, hole or trench.

  • Clear debris and fine fuel away from the vicinity.

  • Build a mound of dirt on the side of the depression towards which the fire is approaching.

  • Lay in the depression and cover yourself with earth or sand or a blanket as a protection from radiant heat.

  • Make use of wheel ruts, depressions, large rocks, culverts or logs to give protection.

  • Do not attempt to back burn or burn down wind – the bush fire could miss you but your fire may not.

Take refuge in ponds or running streams.

  • Do not take refuge in elevated water tanks.

  • Take refuge at campsites, where there may be a cleared area around a wooden shelter.

  • Take refuge in the wooden shelter, or if the fire is approaching the shelter on its open side, remain outside, behind the rear wall.

  • Seeking refuge at a recognised campsite may mean you can be more easily found by Emergency Services personnel.

  • a horse be outside of normal parameters whilst arriving or participating in the WBSR the rider / owner should retire from the trail and ensure appropriate treatment is provided, i.e., first aid treatment or a vet is a more thorough diagnosis is required.