Major points of Keelty inquiry not acted on
A firefighter puts out spot fires in Parkerville.

The State Government has failed to introduce key recommendations stemming from the Keelty inquiry into the 2011 Kelmscott-Roleystone fire that destroyed 71 homes, including tougher planning laws and fire mitigation strategies, the former president of the Emergency Services Volunteers Association says.

In the wake of another destructive blaze, John Iffla said he was frustrated that necessary changes had not been implemented to reduce the risk in bushfire-prone areas.

The Government said it had implemented 53 of the 55 Keelty recommendations and progress was being made on the last proposals.

Key recommendations not yet introduced included transferring responsibility for declaring bushfire prone areas from local government to the WA Planning Commission, urgently assessing high-risk areas and setting higher building standards in those areas.

Mr Iffla believed the Government had also received recommendations to employ fire mitigation officers to help councils identify and reduce bushfire risks, such as checking there were proper fire breaks.

"These are the recommendations that will make a big difference," the volunteer firefighter said. "I've been in a major bushfire like that and it's hopeless. Having 100 extra fire trucks on the ground won't fix the problem, we have to build better structures to withstand the impact of fire and have better planning in place so people can clear more land and protect their homes properly.

"And if people won't do it, they need penalties applied to them - we need a different change of culture."

Mr Iffla said higher building standards should be enforced in high-risk areas and although the homes would cost more, they would be more fire resistant.

"It's so disappointing, volunteers (in working groups) have spent thousands of hours working with government to try to limit this sort of event and the government hasn't delivered," he said.

Planning Minister John Day said the declaration of bushfire zones was a complex legislative issue and progress had been made on the recommendation.

He said the WA Planning Commission regularly refused planning applications that did not comply with Bushfire Protection Guidelines and worked with local governments on subdivisions in high-risk areas.

"While the planning process is an important part of bushfire management, particularly in new developments, the proposed declaration of bushfire-prone areas would have little effect on established homes," Mr Day said.

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson said extra resources would be required to assist local governments to address bushfire risk identification and co-ordinate mitigation efforts.

He said the exact resources required would become more evident after a pilot program had been run and a number of shires from bushfire areas had agreed to participate.

Mr Gregson said substantial work had been done in the area.

The West Australian

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