DPAW carries out prescribed burning for a number of purposes, including to lessen the severity of future bushfires and to reduce the risks to lives and property, by reducing the build-up of flammable fuel loads. Prescribed burns take place in spring and autumn in the southwest of the State and in May- September in the north including the Kimberley. There are two main ignition methods - aerial ignition (using incendiaries) and hand ignition.

Prescribed burn bushfirefront
(image courtesy of bushfirefront.com)    

There is seldom much advance warning of actual burn days as the conditions have to be suitable before they go ahead to minimise the risk that a burn will ‘escape’ and become a wildfire. If walking at a time of year when prescribed burns could be proceeding it is prudent for a walk leader to check DPAW’s ‘Prescribed Burns Program’ at least a day or two before the walk to see if any prescribed burns are planned or already in progress ("active") in the walk area, and especially whether there are any planned to be lit that day.

DPAW’s Indicative Burn Plans maps show all possible burn areas for the season; some areas on the map will still remain to be burned, while others may already have been burned recently, which could also leave an intended walk area temporarily very sooty and uninviting! The indicative burn areas can also be downloaded as ‘kmz’ files to open in Google Earth, making it very easy for a walk leader to check if a walk area has been, or may be, affected.

If still unsure on the timing of a planned burn contact the relevant DPAW district office.

The EmergencyAUS app. for smartphones is very useful for monitoring prescribed burns and wildfires. It handily captures DPAW Alerts and other emergency listings in the one spot and also gives the distance from your current location to any events.