City of Busselton residents have been urged to start preparing for the upcoming bushfire season amid warnings they may not be able to leave their properties if a blaze breaks out.
City emergency and ranger services manager Tim Wall said property owners needed to start preparations now and “not leave it to the last minute” in summer when there was less opportunity to reduce fuel loads.
Last week Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell said there was no time for complacency, with fire authorities predicting another difficult and challenging bushfire season.
Mr Buswell urged all community organisations, homeowners and private property owners in bushfire risk areas to implement 20m Building Protection Zones around their properties.
“(This) has a proven track record of saving lives and properties during a bushfire,” he said.
Mr Wall said the City of Busselton was already a leader in implementing BPZs, with a 98 per cent compliance rate, and addressed a State Government cabinet meeting on the topic last week.
However, he warned residents they should start preparations now while the conditions were right.
“Come December 1, their properties should be fully compliant,” he said.
“If they do the work now, they can easily get burning permits.
“In summer it reduces the chance to comply.”
Mr Wall said fines of up to $5000 applied for failure to comply with the regulations.
“Some people say when there’s a fire in an area they will leave, but sometimes the fire comes so fast you don’t have an option,” he said.
The City will release their Firebreak and Fuel Hazard Reduction Notice next week with all requirements for property owners, including clearing gutters of leaves and removing any flammable material.
They are currently carrying out prescribed burns and Mr Wall said they were “right on track” to meet their target, having recently reduced dangerous fuel loads in the Big Rock Reserve in Dunsborough.
Weather conditions would determine when the burning program would stop, but it was expected to be four to six weeks.