PREPARATION for the coming fire season was stepped up last week in the Donnybrook-Balingup Shire.
Shire Rangers held information sessions in Donnybrook and Balingup to promote the importance of being prepared for the bushfire season.
Interest was high, particularly from new land owners wanting information about how to protect themselves and their homes from fire.
Ranger Bob Jeffreys said the major impacts of fire consisted of fuel load ing, topography and the weather.
"The weather and to p ography we can do not hing about. Fuel loadin gs come down to each and every one of us," he said.
"Fuel reduction aro und your home and property is vital if you wish your valuable ass ets to survive a bushfire.
"Whether your plan is to stay or go, it's most important for your property and for your neighbours to do their utmost to keep their places clean of fuels and defendable.
"Other things to look at are the removal of prunings and trees close to houses."
Ranger Jeffreys said if people didn't do anything, their neighbour's place could be in danger as well as their own.
"The firebreak notice is the minimum amount required - this year we recommend people clean up as much as possible," he said.
Shire CEO John Attwood urged landowners to maintain a low fuel zone around the house, ensure dry grass was removed and that tree canopies don't hang over or touch the house.
"It's important people understand the issue of ember attack. Embers precede the actual fire and do the most damage to homes, getting in via gutters, eaves and open windows, under doors and into wood boxes and garages and outbuildings," Mr Attwood said.
Mr Attwood said all householders should prepare a plan about what they would do in a fire.
"If your intention is to stay and defend your property, your property must be defendable," he said.
"You must be capable of defending it and know what you are in for, because you cannot change your mind half way through."
"If you plan to go, then go early. Most tragedies occur when people change their plans or leave too late."
Preparations last week included new equipment for the Beelerup Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, who swapped their 20-year-old light tanker for a new fire-fighting appliance.
The new vehicle has the capacity to hold 1000 litres of water.
The vehicle was paid for through the Emer gency Services Levy, collected by local government and administered by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (formerly FESA).
Beelerup's small but dedicated Volunteer Bushfire Brigade looks after 7,000 hectares of land, including 800 hectares of forest or plantation and 180 properties.
"With its increased water capacity this vehicle will improve the volunteer brigade's capability to protect those properties," Mr Attwood said.