Emergency Services Minister Bob Wiese said the number of deaths in property fires in Western Australia had halved in 1995-96, compared with the previous year.
Mr Wiese said according to the annual report of the WA Fire Brigades Board - which was officially tabled in Parliament today - nine people died in property fires in 1995-96 while 18 people were killed in 1994-95.
The report highlighted the strong emphasis being placed on fire prevention initiatives and educational programs by the organisation, which now operated as the Fire and Rescue Service of WA (FRS).
"It is a very positive sign that the community is becoming far more active on fire awareness and is taking the necessary precautions, such as installing smoke alarms and being involved in the Community Fireguard program to clean up properties," the Minister said.
"These figures are not an excuse for the community to be complacent on fire prevention, but rather they are an indication that the message is being heard and acted upon."
Mr Wiese said the total number of emergencies handled by the Fire and Rescue Service had levelled out after years of constant growth. The FRS responded to 18,400 emergencies in 1995-96, compared with 18,500 the previous year.
"At this stage this cannot be regarded as being indicative of a trend," he said.
"However, the reduction is very encouraging."
The FRS attended a total of 10,128 fires, of which the majority of 7,242 were bush, scrub, rubbish and grass fires. There were 692 rescues and 523 emergencies involving hazardous materials. A total of 6,593 false alarms were also attended by FRS staff.
"While the majority of emergencies attended by the FRS continued to be smaller scrub, rubbish and grass fires, there were several major property and bush fires during the year that highlighted the very real dangers that fire fighters face," Mr Wiese said.
The Minister congratulated the success of the pro-active occupational health, safety and welfare program by the FRS, which led to the number of staff injuries dropping by a third from 319 in 1994-95 to 212 injuries in 1995-96.
He said significant capital works developments during the year included opening the new $1.2 million Joondalup Fire Station to service the rapidly expanding residential areas in the northern corridor.
Media contact: Mark Thompson 322 2311