Brigade Says Farewell and Thanks to Joe

Joe Burleys Farewell
Joe Burleys Farewell

The brigade, Tuesday night, said good bye and thanked Joe Burley for his seven years of hard work. FCO David Hunt thanked Joe for his many years of work as the training and new members officer at the brigade. It was only 7 years, but it might have felt like 20, David said.

Joe initiated the role of organizing the formal DEFS training process in the brigade and carried this out very efficiently. He was a reliable volunteer for burn offs and did far more than his fair share of this. Along with his firefighting duties he was a hard working Bush Fire Ready coordinator.

Joe joined the brigade after moving down south. He and his wife Cheryl are heading to Tasmania for six months before deciding where to live next.

Blacking out at Marrinup Fire
Blacking out at Marrinup Fire

In other brigade news, the 4.4 and light tanker were in operation on Marrinup last week putting out a fire that had started from a private burn that had not been properly extinguished. There was also a call out Saturday night which turned out to be a false alarm.

This Wednesday the brigade had a two-for-one special. Enroute to a scheduled burn, it was called over to Vintners Ridge to assist Dunsborough in putting out a grass fire.  All three fire fighting units were involved.  Once that fire was out the burn progressed.  A long afternoon.

Brigade Fighting Out-of-Control Private Burns

Mopping up after Glover Road Fire
Mopping up after Glover Road Fire

The brigade has been called out twice recently to extinguish private burns that got out of control. In both cases they resulted from individuals trying to maintain multiple fires. Fortunately in both cases the brigade was able to stop the fires before they got into neighboring bush.

On Thursday, October 23, our new Light Tanker, and our 1.4 were called out, along with Dunsborough units and the 12.2 water tanker. The fire was quickly brought under control but it took another few hours to mop up. The new water tanker played a useful role in allowing a quick refilling turnaround, loading the Dunsborough 3.4 once, the Light Tanker twice, our 1.4 once.

Blacking Out
Fire Breaks the Property Line

The earlier fire was on the same day as the fire expo in Dunsborough and the quick exit of the trucks from the Dunsborugh parking lot gave a sense of reality to the exhibition. There was no shortage of trucks from around the Busselton region ready to help. Again, the fire was quickly extinguished. Fortunately there was little wind on the day.


Brigade Captain Matt Muir is asking the community to make sure anyone burning has adequate resources to control  the fire  and make allowances for a change in wind speed and direction.  This, he says, is especially important this week as after Saturday, November 2,  all fires will require a permit.

Gov’t to look at cancer legislation for volunteer firefighters

WA Emergency Services Minster Joe Francis this week said the Government will investigate introducing legislation for some volunteer firefighters which will make it easier to get workers’ compensation if they suffer certain types of cancer, the ABC reported. This followed the passage of a bill that gives these rights to career firefighters. Further information here:

The law will operate on the presumption that firefighters got certain cancers at work. Firefighters with cancer currently face a difficult task in most cases in claiming insurance, including workers compensation, because they face the requirement of identifying which chemicals, on which dates, at which incidents, might have caused their illness.

The bill did not cover volunteer or DPaW firefighters. The government indicated that extending the legislation to volunteers would probably only involve those who fought structural fires. “What you’ve got to remember is that career full-time, fire and rescue firefighters predominantly battle structural fires that are covered with toxins and carcinogens,” Francis said.

WA Nationals MP Martin Aldridge says governments need to closely investigate health impacts on volunteer and DPAW firefighters.

South Australia is debating similar legislation but it is being held up by the opposition as it wants volunteers included. The SA Government did offer to include volunteers who attend 35 structure, car and hazardous materials fire a year, in the legislation. That was rejected by the Country Fire Service, which says the threshold is too high and equates to about 3 per cent of its members. While the legislation remains in limbo, the CFS is banking on community support and looking to present a petition of 20,000 signatures to Parliament in coming weeks, the ABC reported.

In September Tasmania was the first state to pass such legislation which also covered volunteer firefighters, the Hobart Mercury reported.

Postscript:  In October, 2012, the then emergency minister, Troy Buswell said  the government would  “amend legislation to ensure a career or volunteer firefighter who developed a prescribed cancer – one of 12 cancers as scheduled in the Commonwealth legislation – would have greatly simplified workers’ compensation considerations.
“It has been established that firefighters are at an increased risk of developing certain cancers through exposure to carcinogens while performing lifesaving roles for the community,” he said.
“This legislation will provide cover for career and volunteer firefighters who predominantly undertake structural firefighting duties, and retrospectively take into account their past years of service.”



April 30 Deadline for Submissions on our Future

April 30 is the deadline for submitting recommendations to DFES on the new legislation that will govern the operation of emergency services, including bush fire brigades.

At a presentation in Margaret River Wednesday night, April 3, DFES managers stressed they are currently working from a “blank slate” and are looking for submissions from associations, brigades and individual members on what should be included in the new legislation to replace the three existing emergency  acts. One of these, the Bush Fires Act of 1954, sets out the structure and operations of bush fire brigades. The act is available here.

The submissions will feed into the process of drafting the new legislation. The next step will be the development of a draft options paper which will be circulated for further comment.  The final legislation is not expected until 2015.

DFES is interested in comments relating to anything relating to brigade operations.  This could range from what powers are needed to carry out our work, to the well being of volunteers, to building protection zones.

Specifically they would like the submissions to provide the context in which  issues arise; a description of the issue or challenge; and a comment, suggestion or solution.  They would also like to see any positive parts of the existing legislation be highlighted.

There are forms available on the DFES volunteer portal here.  For more background information and instructions on how to email your comments  go here on our website.

Legislation Review Roadshow in MR Tonight

The DFES Amalgamated Legislation Review roadshow is being held in Margaret River tonight, Wednesday, April 3 at 18:30 at the new Margaret River SES Facility on Clarke Road.

DFES staff will be doing a presentation on the legislation that would combine the existing emergency legislations and will be looking for feedback.

Among the issues be covered will be:

  • Functions (who does what and when)
  • Powers (tools to help us do our jobs)
  • Incident Control (first on scene to escalation)
  • Career and volunteer protection
  • Training (cost, delivery, standards)
  • Fuel load management and enforcement (across the different land types)

Further information from the Association Of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades is available here: