Case Study D5: Trail blazing beats bushfire in Bunbury
The benefits of effective bushfire mitigation were clearly demonstrated in Western Australia's Bunbury Shire in 2006-07.
Through the Bushfire Mitigation Programme, Bunbury Shire received a grant of $22,000 to establish hard-surfaced fire trails throughout the local coastal dune system.
On 26 January 2007, a fire was deliberately lit in the coastal reserve at around 11 pm. The night was extremely warm, with very strong easterly winds, so the fire behaved more like a fire would behave in the heat of the day. The hard-surfaced fire trails allowed firefighting crews to stop the fire from travelling south, enabling them to contain the fire far more quickly than would have been possible otherwise.
Less than a month later, on the afternoon of 18 February 2007, another fire was deliberately lit in the same reserve. Again the newly established hard-surfaced fire trails allowed vehicles, including heavy pumps, to move effectively within the reserve to contain the fire.
The fire crews had the added security of knowing the trails would provide strong containment lines should they need to burn back into the fire in order to contain it on one parcel of land. Fortunately, that was not needed on this occasion-the fire was stopped before getting too large, and restricted to 3 hectares.
In its first season of use, this bushfire mitigation project has twice helped to ensure the safety of firefighters and the local community.