Thermal imaging cameras rolled out to more bushfire brigades

DFES is rolling out thermal imaging cameras to 73 bushfire brigades but says it is not in response to a recommendation by an investigation into the 2019 Yanchep bushfire that thermal imaging cameras be used in future bushfire operations. Picture: DFES

SHIRE of Gingin brigades will join City of Wanneroo brigades in having access to their own thermal imaging cameras this bushfire season.

The nine Shire of Gingin bushfire brigades – Nilgen, Ocean Farms, Gingin, Gingin South, Gingin West, Guilderton, Red Gully, Beermullah, Seabird and Ledge Point – are among 62 regional-based brigades to be provided with the cameras by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES).

The cameras help firefighters identify hotspots in bushfires, enabling them to target specific areas and deploy their resources accordingly.

The thermal imaging cameras are also an important tool to detect fires burning underground, which are a common threat in Western Australia and can cause bushfires to reignite after they have been extinguished.

A DFES spokesman said the rollout of the FLIR K2 thermal imaging cameras was not in response to a recommendation by an investigation into the December 11, 2019 Yanchep bushfire that thermal imaging cameras be used in future bushfire operations to check for underground hot spots.

This week Yanchep News Online asked the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) if Yanchep National Park had access to its own thermal imaging camera to help identify hotspots in bushfires and fires burning in peat areas or did it have to rely on the brigades, which attended bushfires in the national park having the cameras.

A DBCA spokeswoman said Parks and Wildlife Service fire operations staff in the Swan coastal district, including Yanchep National Park, had access to thermal imaging technology when required as well as aerial infrared surveillance which was frequently used during bushfire incidents to detect hotspots.

Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Darren Klemm said the new equipment would help firefighters continue to make informed operational decisions and keep the community safe.

“The new thermal imaging cameras will make it quicker and easier for volunteers to find the source of combustion and to extinguish the fire,” he said.

“Brigades will also be able to find hotspots and track the edge of the fire, as well as locating smouldering embers and underground fires, allowing them to use their resources more efficiently and prevent fires from reigniting.’’

Mr Klemm said the cameras would make firefighting safer for the crews on the ground, which in turn would make Western Australia safer.

“We’re pleased to deliver these devices to volunteer firefighters and invest in the people who give up their time to protect their local community,’’ he said.

Brigades will also receive charging equipment that can be used in firefighting vehicles, allowing the cameras to be recharged while the brigade is on the road.

Training will also be provided to volunteers to ensure they are familiar with the operation of the new thermal imaging cameras, which cost more than $170,000 will be provided to 73 brigades.

The DFES spokesman said the new cameras would fill some gaps in high-risk bushfire areas.

He said the City of Wanneroo was one of the local governments, which had already funded thermal imaging cameras for its Wanneroo, Quinns Rocks, Two Rocks and Yanchep bushfire brigades.

But he said if career and volunteer personnel needed thermal imaging cameras during a bushfire the department made sure they were able to access them.

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