Independent Oversight of MR Fire Response Enquiry

The WA government has agreed to a recommendation of the Keelty report that there be independent oversight of the inhouse enquiry looking into the response operation of last November’s Margaret River Fire. Specifically, recommendation nine states: “The response operation to the Margaret River bushfire in November 2011 be the subject of a review with independent oversight.”  The scope of the Keelty Enquiry was limited to the cause of the fire. At the start of the enquiry, Mick Keetly told Margaret River residents that FESA would be carrying out its own internal enquiry into the fire.

The full text of the report is available here. The government’s response is here.

The Report produced 10 recommendations and the government has agreed to implement all 10. One is that DEC review its prescribed burns procedures to fully utilise the skills available to it including volunteer bushfire brigades, especially in regard to use as a source of local advice;
and FESA. Another calls for the establishment of a new Office of Bushfire Risk Management, which will be responsible for signing off on all DEC prescribed burn plans. It will report to FESA chief executive Wayne Gregson. It has also been recommended that any level 3 bushfire, defined as a complex fire in which life and property are at risk, will automatically fall under the overall control of FESA. Also DEC has been instructed to temporarily suspend further burns within 5km of town sites and rural subdivisions until a complete risk assessment is undertaken.

The report also recommends DEC conducts research into the fuel management of coastal heath in the south west, exploring alternatives to burning as well as best practice for burning.

The West Australian report is here and the ABC report is here.