February 20, 1996
Emergency Services Minister Bob Wiese today launched a summer fire safety awareness program, urging the community to take extra care during the fire season.
Mr Wiese said the Summer Safe 1996 campaign was a joint operation between fire authorities to warn the community to be fire cautious around the home or while on a picnic or barbecue. The campaign would also provide safety tips on what to do if a bushfire was approaching their homes and people were caught in a blaze.
"Western Australia has experienced a late start to the fire season and there are large tracts of scrub and dry grass that could become a bush fire disaster with the onset of hot weather," he said.
"In the past few days a number of homes have been threatened by fires in the metropolitan area and this reinforces the need for the community to be fire-alert and to ensure all necessary precautions are in place."
Mr Wiese said the onus was on people to observe fire danger warnings and if in doubt to check with their local fire authority or shire.
"Everyone must take responsibility and action to prevent a fire disaster and this can be achieved by cleaning out gutters, maintaining fire breaks and a clear zone around the home," he said.
The Summer Safe awareness program - which will include radio and television commercials - is being jointly co-ordinated by the WA Fire Brigades Board, Conservation and Land Management and the Bush Fires Board.
Mr Wiese said a key campaign message was directed to parents to take a responsible approach and educate their children about the dangers of playing with lighters and matches.
"Statistics indicate the majority of deliberately lit bushfires around the metropolitan area are started by children," he said.
"Children may not understand the risks, so take the time to teach them of the hazards of fire and do not let them put their own lives in danger or threaten the lives of others.
"I urge parents not to leave their children unsupervised after school or during holiday periods and help avoid a potential disaster."
Mr Wiese said arson was a despicable crime that cost the community more than $100 million per year.
He said the State Government was committed to tackling arson and was offering a $25,000 reward for information which led to the arrest and conviction of people who deliberately lit fires.
The Government reward was in addition to a $25,000 reward offered by the Insurance Council of Australia for damage to insured property.
Media contact: Mark Thompson 222 9595 or pager 482 4648