The upcoming bushfire season will be the 13th year Strike Force Vulcan has been in operation. Strike Force Vulcan runs for six months commencing 1 November 2022 until 30 April 2023 and also encompasses regional WA and is led by senior detectives from the WA Police Arson Squad who worked in close collaboration with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), and Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).
Strike Force Vulcan identifies and monitors arsonists, provides high visibility patrols and delivers a rapid investigative response to deliberately lit bushfires. This bushfire season, Strike Force Vulcan will investigate suspicious bushfire activity across the entire state of Western Australia. Numerous overt and covert strategies are used to identify and apprehend arsonists, including covert cameras and surveillance.
The 2021-22 intervention strategy was one of the most successful since Strike Force Vulcan commenced in 2011. In excess of 876 deliberate or suspicious fires were reported with a total of 31 offenders charged with 85 fire related offences across the State.
Strike Force Vulcan staff were deployed to many areas of WA providing specialist support and intelligence at significant bushfires, including:-
• Attending the South West Region in December 2021 to investigate a major fire which destroyed in excess of 6000 hectares of bushland and threatened the town site of Margaret River. This fire resulted in a deceased male being later found within the fire ground. The cause of death is yet to be determined by the State Coroner.
• An investigation into the behaviour of a volunteer firefighter in January 2022 who was subsequently charged with lighting nine fires in the Perth hills.
• An investigation into a series of scrub fires in Canning Vale in February 2022. An adult male was subsequently arrested and charged with lighting eight fires.
• The arrest of an adult female in February 2022 who was subsequently charged with lighting nine fires in the Gidgegannup area.
Detective Senior Sergeant Tom TRISTRAM, Officer in Charge of the WA Police Arson Squad said that lighting a fire of any size can cause the fire to spread rapidly and have severe consequences to the community.
“Fire is unpredictable, as well as dealing with adult arsonists, Strike Force Vulcan intervenes in a number of bushfires caused by children and teenagers who were playing with fire. We strongly encourage parents to talk with their children about the dangers of fire,” he said.
Bushfire arson is a serious offence and in Western Australia the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment. You will never know if police are watching until it’s too late. If you light a fire in bushland, you risk going to jail for 20 years.
Deliberate fires place an enormous financial burden on the community and on both local and state governments. Bushfires have the potential to kill and injure people and animals, destroy homes and animal habitats with long lasting ramifications.
Police urge anyone with information to come forward with any information to help protect your community from the devastation that deliberately lit bushfires can cause. There are significant rewards on offer for information that leads to the identification and conviction of an arsonist.
All Western Australians are urged to prepare their home and property for this bushfire season. For more information, visit emergency.wa.gov.au/prepare
• In a life threatening emergency, including where smoke can be seen in bushland areas, call 000.
• To report suspicious activity call 131 444.
• Anyone with information regarding bushfires and arsonists is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report online at www.crimestopperswa.com.au