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Shires to share in $5.5m on fire risk

Kellie BalaamNarrogin Observer
The Shires of Williams, Wagin, Woodanilling and Boddington all received grant allocations towards mitigating bushfire risks across their areas.Picture: Scott Reeves
Camera IconThe Shires of Williams, Wagin, Woodanilling and Boddington all received grant allocations towards mitigating bushfire risks across their areas.Picture: Scott Reeves

Several Wheatbelt and Great Southern bushfire risks are set to be addressed after the recent grant allocation of nearly $5.5 million of State Government funding assistance.

The Shires of Williams, Wagin, Woodanilling and Boddington all received grant allocations towards mitigating bushfire risks across their areas.

The Shire of Williams has been allocated $50,000.

Shire of Williams chief executive Geoff McKeown said they would carry out three mitigation activities.

“The biggest one will involve tree trimming through the fire break areas of our waste site which also incorporates the Water Corporation waste treatment on the east side of town,” he said.

“The site has a series of fire breaks running through to protect the infrastructure in a fire situation and we’ll do vertical tree trimming to make it easier for firefighting vehicles to enter the site safely.”

Two smaller projects involved removing vegetation around the York-Williams Road bridge and improving the overgrown exit access of the Tarwonga Hall and Tennis Club.

Mr McKeown said in order to get funding the Shire prepared a bushfire mitigation plan identifying key assets.

“Our previous work had not really focused on fire mitigation as a regular maintenance regime, so this plan has focused the need to make sure our assets are protected and having an opportunity to get external funding provides more of an initiative to get them done,” he said.

According to Mr McKeown, Williams is quite prone to bushfires.

“Last summer we were very busy, a lot more than the previous year,” he said.

“These areas we are looking at are close to residential properties so we want to make sure that if a fire did start, we have a good means of managing fire to not only protect infrastructure but private property.”

The Shire of Williams plans to complete the mitigation activities around the end of April.

Torched bushland from a 2015 Boddington fire.
Camera IconTorched bushland from a 2015 Boddington fire.

Wagin has received more than $65,000 to help reduce bushfire risk.

The Shire of Wagin has already started rolling out mitigation activities.

Shire of Wagin president Phillip Blight said the Shire’s bushfire risks had been brewing for a while.

“The risks needed to be addressed so it was really important to find a mechanism to do that; one of the challenges we had in the main area we’ve addressed, is that we weren’t the owners of any of the infrastructure at risk,” he said.

With the State’s assistance, the Shire has taken it upon themselves to reduce those risks.

“The Telstra mobile towers and police radio masts were really vulnerable to fire in the bush area but we didn’t own them, so for the past few years we’ve been trying to convince the owners they were under threat,” Mr Blight said.

Other projects will include reducing fire risk along the railway line from the north and targeting smaller reserves.

Mr Blight said Wagin had the occasional lightning strike or machinery fire in summer.

“It’s all about identifying risks and trying to mitigate them as best as we can,” he said.

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