Notification: Parks and Wildlife Service is part of the new Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

Towers

The Department of Parks and Wildlife operates 13 fire detection towers. They are one of the best means of detecting fires in remote forested areas. Towers are located strategically around the southern regions of WA to ensure maximum coverage of parks and forests.

Many of the existing towers are still used but some are non-operational. These lookouts are staffed during the fire season for varying periods depending on the fire danger rating, the likelihood of lightning storms and existing fires.

Fire fact


Mungalup Tower was built in 1958, is 30 metres high, and is made from jarrah. This tower will soon be replaced by a 40 metre steel tower
The Mount Williams Tower is a 20 metre high steel tower built in 2002-03. Both towers are still operational and are manned all summer according to Fire Danger Ratings.

Fire fact


Tree lookouts were originally constructed in the early 1920s. They were used for fire detection up until the 1960s.
  • Mt Williams fire tower.
    Photo © Parks and Wildlife
  • WA fire tower locations.
    Photo © Parks and Wildlife
  • Mungalup fire tower. 
    Photo © Parks and Wildlife

Spotter aircraft

Light fixed wing aircraft, such as the Scout, are used to detect fires in south-west regions. Spotters, as they are referred to, are used during the fire season to detect smoke and relay the message back to districts.

  • Each spotter has a unique circuit that it flies to reduce time and provide continuity of detection.
  • Parks and Wildlife has nine light fixed wing aircraft.
  • Spotter planes were originally trialled in Nannup during the summer of 1973-74, and in Collie, Harvey and Manjimup the following summer. They were found to be very effective so their use was expanded and refined.
  • Spotter circuits, detection and intelligence are backed up by fire towers when aircraft are unable to operate due to controlled airspace and/or severe weather conditions.

Satellites

In remote regions, where the department manages over 88 million hectares of land, satellites are used to detect fires instead.

  • The department uses Landgate's Firewatch and Geoscience Australia's Sentinel monitoring systems to detect and monitor bushfires in the more remote areas of the state.
  • These systems provide information on hotspots on the Earth’s surface that could be a fire.
  • The data is sourced from MODIS satellites that pass Western Australia every two hours.
  • The data collected is processed in near real time to provide hotspot information with more than 80 per cent accuracy.