30 March 2021

Bushfire council raises concerns about fire protection in new suburbs

| Dominic Giannini
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Orroral Valley bushfire

The Orroral Valley bushfire sparked the ACT’s first state of emergency under the Emergencies Act 2004, in January 2020. Photo: ACT Emergency Services Agency.

The ACT Government is working to sure up the Territory’s ability to respond to natural disasters, and is keeping one eye on construction standards in bushfire-prone areas such as Denman Prospect.

ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said the government will ensure that all developments at Denman Prospect meet or exceed fire management standards in a response to recommendations from the ACT Bushfire Council.

The Bushfire Council said it is concerned about the adequacy of fire protection measures for new suburbs on the western and northern sides of Canberra in a report delivered to Minister Gentleman in November 2020.

“Recent risk modelling work … shows that bushfires under catastrophic conditions would result in some existing Denman Prospect houses being destroyed, and that these risks increase in the currently undeveloped areas to the west and north of Stage 1,” said the report.

The ACT Government said the planning and development of the suburb has involved heavy consultation from the ACT Emergency Services Agency and the ACT Parks and Conservation Service since 2014.

Extensive asset protection zones, access roads, water supplies and building construction requirements have been put in place to mitigate the risk posed by bushfires.

Mick Gentleman at press conference

ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman has released the ACT Government’s response to both the royal commission and ACT Bushfire Council recommendations one day apart. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

“These protection measures will help significantly reduce the bushfire risk for Denman Prospect, noting that residents should still consult our bushfire prone area map and have a survival plan in place,” said the government’s response.

The ACT Government also agreed to support a national construction code to make buildings more disaster resilient and to consider future disaster risks when making planning decisions for new developments in its response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

The government released its response to the royal commission a day after its response to the ACT Bushfire Council and supports all of the commission’s recommendations. It also agreed or agreed in principle with all of the Bushfire Council’s 18 recommendations and said it has already completed four.

The royal commission’s recommendations also included a national register of fire and emergency services personnel and equipment; better emergency communication across jurisdictions; a public safety mobile broadband network; better data availability and sharing; and prioritising mental health during and after natural disasters.

“The royal commission underscored the importance of collaboration across jurisdictions and we are building on our strong working relationships with other states,” said Minister Gentleman.

“The ACT is well prepared for bushfires and I would like to remind and encourage all Canberrans to regularly review their disaster survival plans.”

You can download and complete a survival plan here.

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They could start by mowing the grass.

Capital Retro11:33 am 31 Mar 21

Any houses destroyed in Denman-Prospect would be an improvement.

Seriously, I recall commenting before about the lack of foresight in the siting of this suburb given that at least 3 major bushfires have gone through the location in the past 80 years.

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