Bushfire in Yeal Nature Reserve, January 2021. Photo – Kimberlee Kucera/DBCA
Bushfire in Yeal Nature Reserve, January 2021. Photo – Kimberlee Kucera/DBCA

This service is responsible for responding quickly and effectively to bushfires on, or near, land managed by DBCA by maintaining an appropriate detection and response capacity. 

DBCA continues to work closely with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ (DFES) Rural Fire Division and local governments to implement a collaborative fuel reduction and bushfire mitigation program on lands outside of the conservation estate managed by DBCA to maximise on-ground bushfire mitigation opportunities across the broader public and private landscape to better protect local communities.

Performance summary

Table 9: Service 10 performance summary


2020–21 target

2020–21 actual


Expenses by service




Key efficiency indicator


Average cost per hectare burnt 




Key effectiveness indicator


Proportion of South West bushfires contained to less than two hectares 




Note that the bushfire effectiveness indicator considers only those fires where DBCA was the initial attack agency. More information on the above indicators can be found in the Disclosures and Legal Compliance section under Key Performance Indicators.

Performance highlights

Bushfire management

  • DBCA personnel fought and/or monitored 450 bushfires that burnt about 409,085 hectares in 2020–21, including:
    • 3949 hectares in the Pilbara Region
    • 88,378 hectares in the Goldfields Region
    • 249,468 hectares in the Kimberley Region
    • 1079 hectares in the South Coast Region
    • 30,201 hectares in the Midwest Region
    • 4277 hectares in the Wheatbelt Region
    • 31,731 hectares in the three south-west forest regions (Swan, South West and Warren).
  • The causes of these fires were:
    • lightning – 20.67 per cent (below the 10-year average of 25.68 per cent)
    • deliberately lit or arson-caused fires – 38.67 per cent (below the 10-year average of about 38.91 per cent)
    • accidental fires – 14.88 per cent
    • escapes from private burns – 3.33 per cent
    • escapes from departmental burns – 0.89 per cent
    • other causes – 11.78 per cent
    • unknown – 9.78 per cent.
  • In conjunction with DFES and local governments, four interagency State bushfire pre-formed incident management teams were rostered in readiness for deployment to large bushfires around the State throughout the southern bushfire season.
  • These teams were deployed to Beekeepers Nature Reserve, Jurien (December 2020), Red Gully, Gingin, Nannup (January 2021) and Wooroloo (February 2021).

Bushfire detection 

  • DBCA provided an effective fire-detection system in the high bushfire risk zones of the south-west forest regions using single-engine aircraft and 10 fixed lookout towers. DBCA’s fleet of 10 ‘spotter’ aircraft flew 4131 hours of aerial surveillance in pre-determined circuits. Flight schedules varied according to bushfire danger levels and fire activity.
  • The detection aircraft also flew 278 hours in support of bushfire suppression operations.

Aerial bushfire suppression operations

  • DBCA contracted eight fixed-wing water bombers in the south-west forest regions from November 2020 to mid-April 2021. Two additional fixed-wing water bombers were also available for use and were rotated through bases at Manjimup, Albany, Bunbury, and Jandakot for periods of severe bushfire weather or high demand. The aircraft provided rapid aerial bushfire suppression capability in DBCA’s Midwest, Wheatbelt, South Coast, Warren, South West and Swan regions including the Perth outer-metropolitan area, delivering valuable assistance to ground crews during the initial attack on bushfires.
  • Collectively, these aircraft flew 1100 operational hours in attending 148 bushfires and dropped 1804 loads, delivering 5,412,000 million litres of suppressant.

Bushfire training and development

  • Fire Management Services Branch training and development staff conducted 33 formal fire training sessions inclusive of aviation training involving 1933 participants.
  • Participants included internal staff, campground host volunteers and personnel from the Forest Products Commission (FPC), DFES, local governments and Aboriginal ranger groups from across the State.
  • Annual mandatory pre-season training in preparation for the 2020–21 bushfire season was conducted for 976 DBCA and FPC personnel and included the use of two-way radios, storage and use of fire blankets, and burn-over drills.
  • DBCA continues to work closely with the DFES Bushfire Centre of Excellence and released the Implementation Guide for Prescribed Burning.
Page reviewed 20 Sep 2021