With the holiday and fire season upon us, it is a good time to review what tech options are available for staying safe this time of year. From a fire perspective there is the usual alerts page from DFES (dfes.wa.gov.au) which provides information on larger incidents, these can take a while to become published but are the authoritative source of information on these fires . If you want to get details on what is happening in real time during a fire, the DFES central command radio channel is broadcast on the internet through broadcastify (http://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/1432/web). This provides communications between fire fighters and DFES, such as situation reports, on a regular basis. To keep a watch on weather conditions consult the bureau of meteorology's fire weather forecast at http://www.bom.gov.au/wa/forecasts/fire-southwest.shtml. Landgate Firewatch provides a map of current fires (with a couple of hours delay) as well as lightning strikes. This can be accessed from http://firewatch.landgate.wa.gov.au. It also pays to be aware of total fire bans and vehicle movement and hot works bans. These can be found on the DFES website and your local shire webpage. It also worth keeping an eye on your regional facebook page, but the reliability of information may not be guaranteed. That being said, it is one of the quickest ways for information to be shared, but it always pays to verify the information before jumping to conclusions.
If you are concerned about a local fire then keep an eye on the horizon to see if there is a smoke plume and what direction it is travelling in. Being aware of local weather conditions, such as wind speed and direction can help you assess the fire danger. This may be the best way to verify for yourself what is going on. I have setup a personal weather station for this very reason (see my blog for setting up a personal weather station). It also pays to have a bushfire plan in place well before you need it. DFES provide a lot of good resources for preparation of a bushfire plan.
Lastly, if you really want to know how to deal with a bushfire, join your local bushfire brigade where you can get trained and take part in protecting your local community. Contact your Shire for further details.
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