With 2015 being reported by the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology as the fifth warmest year on record, bushfires (wildfires in Australia) are becoming an increasing concern. Western Australia's bushfire season generally runs from November to April. These wildfires can cause severe damage and our neighbors in Australia are working towards trying to help residents become safer in the event of a wildfire. A friend from ‘Down Under” shared with us an interactive map that is updated according to the level of threat in an area, from the Western Australian Government Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DEFS). The map includes helpful information about phone numbers that can be called to report bushfires, what fire threat level a community is in, how often threat levels are reported on in the website and what to do to protect your property and lives before a wildfire occurs. Other natural disasters such as Tsunami’s, earthquakes and floods are also included on the emergency warning map.
There is a legend on the map that allows individuals to see at a glance what their risk level is and where fires are and have occurred. The Blue flame “Bushfire Advice”, means there is a fire in the area but there is no immediate danger to structures and that information will be provided on the site to update individuals living in the area. The yellow flame alerts residents to the fact that a fire is approaching and conditions are changing so residents need to evacuate or prepare to defend their homes. A red flame lets people know that they are in peril of immediate danger and that they need to take action to survive, and an emergency warning siren they call the Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS) is used at this time. The black flame indicates bushfire all clear but also offers advice on hazards to be aware of as you return to your property after a bush fire. The frequency of the alert notification depends upon the level of the threat. A blue flame (Advice) warning is issued twice a day at 11 am and 4 pm. The yellow flame indicating Watch and Act is issued every two hours unless the danger level changes. The red flame for emergency warning has information that is updated every hour. Once the all clear announcement is made signaled by the black flame no other notifications are made.
This map is a useful tool for residents that are living in the proximity of a wildfire. Preparing in advance of the wildfire is increasingly becoming an important part of the way Australians work together to help make residents and property safer in the event of a wildfire. As the intensity of wildfires increases around the globe, programs like NFPA's Firewise Communities USA® will play an increasingly significant role helping residents understand what their risk is as well as learn what steps they can take to effectively lessen their risk of loss due to wildfires/bushfires/forest fires/grass fires and other natural occurring wildland fires.