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BANJUP RESIDENTS GROUP (Inc.)

Rural Residents Must Be Heard !!

News

Fires on Gibbs Road 1 & 3 December 2011

Posted by Ian Thurston on December 6, 2011 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (2)

Shortly before 4:00pm on Thursday 1 December 2011 a fire was accidentally started on a property on Gibbs Road. FESA and volunteer fire brigades were at the scene within 15 minutes but the fire had caught hold of the vegetation and dense smoke billowed across the area, blown south eastwards by strong winds.

Several water bombing aeroplanes and helicopters were deployed. The fire spread into the Buckingham Reserve and into adjoining properties. Police closed off Gibbs Road and Beenyup Road and several homes were evacuated for a few hours.

The fire was extinguished eventually by 9:00pm but fire crews stayed throughout the night to monitor the area.

Some reserve bushland was burned out, as were parts of Banjup residents’ properties. Thankfully, no homes were touched by the fire.

Unfortunately, the fire caused the peat underlying the Buckingham Reserve to smoulder and on Saturday 3 December, in strong winds, the fire reignited. The fire brigades were again quickly in action and, with the aid of water bombers, the fire was quickly brought under control. Firemen will watch the Reserve continuously for several days.

Banjup residents are grateful to all of the fire-fighters who worked hard to protect our community.

Some photos of the fire are below:

     

Fire Station Row Sets Cockburn Alight!

Posted by Ian Thurston on April 27, 2011 at 10:51 PM Comments comments (0)

The Cockburn Gazette has given front page coverage to the row with FESA and Cockburn Council officers at the Jandakot Fire Brigade AGM. You can see the full story here on the paper's web site.Select the front page of the issue of 26 April 2011.

At the end of the story you will see that the Cockburn CEO refused to answer the reporter's questions as to why councillors had not been briefed on the policies adopted by his staff. This puts doubts into ratepayers' minds as to how they can hold Cockburn staff accountable for their actions. It must surely put doubt into councillors' minds as to the veracity and value of the advice they receive from their staff.

Outcry at Fire Brigade AGM

Posted by Ian Thurston on April 20, 2011 at 1:06 AM Comments comments (0)

The AGM of the Jandakot Volunteer Fire Brigade was held on Monday evening, 18 April. 50 or 60 volunteers were there plus the Mayor, Logan Howlett, and Councillors Ian Whitfield and Lee-Anne Smith. Two senior officers from FESA were also present.

After the formal proceedings of the AGM were complete, the Volunteer Fire Brigade Captain began a strong attack on FESA for misleading the Brigade. He also asked why Cockburn Councillors had not stopped the 'imminent relocation' of the bulk water tanker to Poletti Road. The Mayor and Councillors replied that the first they heard of the relocation was when they saw the letter from FESA to the Banjup Residents Group. The FESA representatives said that FESA thought that for some years the relocation had 'general support' amongst the Brigade members.

FESA said that they would hold a review of the relocation decision involving Brigade and Council members and officers. Until that review was completed the tanker would not be moved. The Mayor said that the review would be only for fact finding and that if it found that there were no reasonable grounds to relocate the tanker, then the Council would not support its relocation. The FESA representatives gave the meeting to understand that the Council had the final say on where the tanker would be located. (Whether the FESA CEO will countenance that commitment is another matter!)

Councillor Smith voiced her full support for the Brigade in its efforts to keep the tanker at Banjup. For this she received enthusiastic applause. The Mayor and Cllr Whitfield were similarly disposed. They declared to put the Brigade's case before a full Council meeting and said that they would support the Brigade.

The Brigade Captain read a long list of the wrongdoings of the Cockburn Chief Fire Control Officer, Don Johnston, who did not attend the meeting. A motion of no confidence in Don Johnston was then put to the meeting. No one present, including the Council members, spoke in opposition to the motion and so the motion was carried unanimously.

The Brigade Captain expressed his thanks to the Banjup Residents Group for our support of the Brigade. The BRG replied that the Brigade would continue to have our support and that Banjup residents did not feel safe in their homes without the tanker nearby. He went on to say that for any joint review of the future of the tanker to be credible, the CEO of FESA should take the proposed imminent relocation of the tanker, as declared in her letter to the BRG, off the table. Otherwise, the review would just be a stitch up. There was warm applause for this and the FESA representatives undertook to ask their CEO to write to us withdrawing that policy statement.

Mayor and Councillor meet Banjup Residents

Posted by Ian Thurston on April 16, 2011 at 2:14 AM Comments comments (0)

The BRG Committee met with the Mayor, Logan Howlett, and Councillor Helen Attrill on Saturday morning 16 April. We provided them with bound copies of all of the correspondence that our Group has had with Cockburn Council concerning Fire Permits. You can download a pdf copy here.

We explained that council officers' responses to our reasonable requests for information have been incomplete and dismissive, which we found difficult to understand from a professional organisation. We had spoken with FESA and the Jandakot Fire Brigade to obtain information that should have been readily available from council officers. Neither of those organisations was able to validate the legal basis or permit abuse claims made by council officers. We concluded that the advice Councillors had been given on the fire permits matter was seriously flawed.

We spoke about the imminent removal of the bulk water tanker from the Jandakot fire station to Poletti Road. We pointed out that at least 30 minutes would be added to the reaction time, by which time dozens of Banjup homes could be lost. We asked how FESA and Cockburn Council would respond to questioning at an independent inquiry along the lines of the Perth Hills Bush Fire Review as to why the tanker was removed and why Cockburn limited the opportunities to reduce fuel load on bush blocks.

We toured the bushland of the BRG President's property and showed the Councillors the many trees that have died over this summer as the water table has fallen. The non-natives will have to be cut down and burned so as to reduce the fuel load. We showed them the overhanging trees on the fire breaks that need to be cut back and disposed of before next summer's inspections. We also showed them piles of dry branches left over from last year that could not be burned because of the 3 fire permit limit. Councillors appreciated that there could be well over 100 cubic metres of vegetation to be disposed of, ten times as much as can be taken to the council tip or placed on the verge for our single 2 cubic metre collection.

We showed the Councillors the bonfire location in the centre of the property, over 100 metres away from our neighbours and kilometres down wind from suburban Atwell, so the potential for smoke nuisance is negligible.

The Mayor will consult with Cockburn officers and he and the BRG President will confer in the week after Easter. We hope that Council will be convinced to change its fire permit policy and bring it into line with those of neighbouring local authorities.

FESA Recommends Closure of Fire Station

Posted by Ian Thurston on April 11, 2011 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The CEO of FESA has written to say that the fire station in Banjup will be closed at some future time (see here). The CEO has said that the Banjup Residents Group will be consulted before the closure process begins.

The immediate concern for Banjup residents, though, is the relocation of the new Bulk Water Tanker from Banjup to the new FESA facility on Poletti Road, Jandakot, which is on the other side of the Freeway.

The bulk water tanker is used to bring 12,000 litres of water to volunteer fire-fighters combating a bush fire. If the water is not readily available, then the volunteers' ability to contain a fire is seriously compromised and the risk of the fire getting out of control is greatly magnified, putting Banjup lives and property in jeopardy.

Currently, the bulk water tanker can be brought to a fire within 8 minutes of it being called out. The Brigade is concerned that basing the tanker at Poletti Road could extend its arrival time by 30 minutes or more, particularly during heavy traffic periods in the morning or afternoons as the bridges across the Freeway become congested.

The relocation will emasculate your local brigade and will likely cause its demise. This puts the whole of Banjup in great danger if a fire were to occur. FESA's plans seem to put cost savings over effective fire fighting in Banjup and the safety of people and property.

Your Committee welcomes comments on this page as to how residents would like us to take this matter forward.

Fire Station - Council Support but No Commitment from FESA

Posted by Ian Thurston on March 30, 2011 at 10:54 PM Comments comments (0)

We wrote to the City of Cockburn and to FESA expressing the concern of Banjup residents about the mooted closure of the fire station in Liddelow Road and the merging of the Jandakot Volunteer Fire Brigade with the Coogee brigade. You can see our letter here.

 We have received a letter from the Mayor of Cockburn expressing Council's support for the retention of the Jandakot Volunteer Fire Brigade in its present location. You can see Council's letter here.

 You will see, though, that the real decision maker is the State government, through its Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA), who direct where the budget is spent. We await a reply to our letter from FESA.