SES Volunteer's Association of Western Australia Incorporated

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Major Incident Review of the Lower Hotham and O’Sullivan fires

Independent major incident review (MIR) of the Lower Hotham and O’Sullivan bushfires occurring in
January and February of 2015. The response to these incidents was jointly managed by DFES, the
Department of Parks and Wildlife (P&W) and Local Government resources. This review is designed to
identify key lessons learned in relation to how these agencies managed and responded to these
incidents, and provide recommendations to improve the response to similar incidents in future.
The South West of Western Australia (WA) experienced a high level of bushfire activity during the
2014/15 season, of which the Lower Hotham and O’Sullivan incidents were the most significant. This
reflects a trend of increasing risk of bushfires in the region resulting from climate change, high fuel loads and rising populations in the rural urban interface. In response to this trend, a number of changes to
emergency management arrangements have been made to clarify accountability and enable interagency
approaches. Despite the scale and complexity of the Lower Hotham and O’Sullivan incidents, the
resulting losses were relatively few. This reflected aspects of the agencies’ response that went well as
well as some instances of favourable changes in weather conditions. The scale and complexity of these
incidents offers the chance to consider opportunities for improving the effectiveness of the agency
response to major fire incidents in the context of the recent and emerging changes in the emergency
management landscape. This MIR was focused on the response of DFES, P&W and Local Government to
the fires and was informed by desktop review and stakeholder consultation

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