New $33m Bushfire Centre of Excellence facility officially opened

A new $33.16 million bushfire management research and training facility was officially opened by Premier Mark McGowan and Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan.

The Karla Katitjin facility in Nambeelup, in the Shire of Murray, marks a new era for bushfire management.

The new facility will be home to Western Australia’s Bushfire Centre of Excellence, which is part of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ Rural Fire Division. The centre of excellence provides enhanced training for bushfire management and response, and has been operating out of temporary offices since its inception in 2018.

In the new, purpose-built facility, the centre of excellence will be able to bring together volunteer and career firefighters, bushfire practitioners, traditional land owners, researchers and scientists to share their bushfire management knowledge, skills and practices.

Through a wide range of new and enhanced training programs, that knowledge will be passed on to volunteer and career firefighters across the State to help ongoing efforts at managing and trying to prevent bushfires. The local Bindjareb Noongar community were closely involved in the design and construction of the new building, which they named Karla Katitjin meaning ‘fire knowledge’.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ Traditional Fire Program, believed to be the first of its kind, will also be hosted at the centre and explores traditional indigenous fire management approaches.

The centre has specialist indoor and outdoor training facilities, collaboration spaces and an interpretive learning centre to help the community better understand bushfires.

Local companies Perkins Builders, Site Architecture Studio and Josh Byrne and Associates, as well as volunteer associations, the Shire of Murray and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions were also closely involved in the project. The project employed about 94 people with 55 per cent of the work carried out by regional contractors.

The $33.16 million investment into the Karla Katitjin facility and its ongoing operations is part of the WA Government’s record investment in bushfire management and prevention.

Following the creation of the Rural Fire Division, more than $35 million was allocated to DFES to lead bushfire mitigation across Unallocated Crown Land and Unmanaged Reserves.

An initial $15 million was invested for local governments to identify their bushfire risks and $15 million for eligible local governments to treat their bushfire risks.

Since 2017, the State Government has funded 43 local governments to carry out more than 3,000 mitigation activities, a contribution of well over $23 million in creating a safer State.

Source: WA Government