Fire Danger Ratings

Fire Danger Ratings

Tuesday 11 April 2017


The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:09 :57 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Emergency Services a question about fire danger ratings.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Fire danger rating forecasts since 2010 have been provided by all state and territory governments according to a national fire danger rating system which has six different ratings. These range from low to moderate, high, very high, severe, extreme to catastrophic. I note that in terms of South Australia's provision of the BOM fire danger rating forecasts it does not provide a multiday forecast; indeed, it provides the fire danger rating the day before.

According to the CFS fact sheet on fire danger ratings published in October 2010, it states that these are:

To help you assess your level of bushfire risk and action to take, it is important that you understand the Fire Danger Rating.

It goes on to state:

The Fire Danger Rating is not a predictor of how likely a bushfire is to occur, but how dangerous it could be if it did occur. It should be used as an early indicator to trigger your plans.

These are released and issued by the Bureau of Meteorology through the CFS after 4pm the day before. I note that in Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria similar advice is released to the people in those states three days before. My question to the minister is: has South Australia considered a three-day advisory and will it consider this for the next fire danger season?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 15:11 :45 ): I thank the honourable member for her question. The first thing is that the government remains absolutely committed to making sure that we provide all the appropriate levels of information that we can to the South Australian public generally to ensure that they can improve and maximise their state of preparedness in and around bushfires. We know that public communications to affected communities are critical if we are going to ensure that their readiness and preparedness for an event is adequate. The state government has invested in a large number of efforts over the years to ensure that that takes place, whether it be through public advertising campaigns on TV—there was an extensive campaign put in place this summer in and around bushfire readiness and preparedness.

Of course, the government has also invested in the Alert SA app, which is an outstanding service providing easy to use and readily available information regarding a whole range of different natural disasters or threats to the community. It is an simple to use app which, of course, is an important piece of technology in today's day and age where people's reliance on mobile phones is so high. There is a range of different efforts the government is putting in place to improve communications to the community around a range of different threats, including bushfire.

In respect to the fire danger rating system, it is a national system as the honourable member referred to. It is one that I think is increasingly becoming familiar to members of the South Australian public, particularly those people who are in areas vulnerable to bushfire. As I understand it, a lot of research and effort has been put into that system over many years to make sure that it is clear and simple and easy to understand by members of the community who should have that information available to them.

In terms of the length of warning to members of the community, the information that is provided by the CFS, above all else has to try to make sure that it is accurate. There is a good collaborative working relationship between our emergency services here in South Australia, as is the case nationally, and the Bureau of Meteorology. That information is relied upon on a frequent and regular basis to ensure that the fire danger ratings that are issued are indeed accurate.

In answer to the honourable member's question, I can confirm that I have been advised recently that the CFS is working with the Bureau of Meteorology to try to put in place a four-day forecast on their website, which will help facilitate more forward planning and a greater degree of awareness and foresight for those people in affected communities in and around fire danger ratings generally.

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