SA to get advance bushfire warnings

By Staff Writer

South Australians living, working or travelling in bushfire-prone areas will be given clear advice about what to do in advance of a fire under the new Fire Danger Rating system, the Minister for Emergency Services Michael Wright has said.

The six-tier system, which is being adopted nationally for the 2009-10 bushfire season, will provide South Australians with clear direction on the safest options for surviving a bushfire, depending on the Fire Danger Rating for a particular day.

The highest Fire Danger Ratings are Severe, Extreme and Catastrophic.

“People who live, work or travel through bushfire-prone areas need to make a plan for what they’ll do for each category,” Minister Wright said.

He said extreme conditions, such as those that occurred during the Wangary Bushfires near Port Lincoln in 2005, would attract the highest Fire Danger Rating of Catastrophic (Code Red).

“With this Fire Danger Rating, the call for action will be for people to leave, either on the previous night or as early as possible in the morning,” Minister Wright said.

“If a fire starts on a day of Catastrophic conditions, there is a very high likelihood that people in the path of a fire will die or be injured, thousands of homes and business will be destroyed and well constructed and prepared homes may not be safe,” he added.

CFS Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said the Fire Danger Index, which is issued daily by the Bureau of Meteorology, would remain crucial to the Fire Danger Rating provided by the CFS under the new system.

During the fire season, the bureau will release the Fire Danger Index after considering the predicted weather, including the temperature, relative humidity and wind speed, and the dryness of the vegetation.

“It’s vital that if you live, work or travel through a bushfire-prone area you know what the Bushfire Danger Ratings mean,” Mr Ferguson said.

“On a Catastrophic-rated day, your life is at risk. Leaving early is your safest option while on a day rated Severe, only well prepared and well-constructed homes may provide safe shelter. The safest option is still to leave early,” Mr Ferguson said.

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