Meet the tower watchers — the first line of defence against bushfire

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While satellites with high-powered cameras and thermal devices are making life easier to see fires from space, the quickest way to detect fires is a lot closer to Earth.

He is one of 13 towermen and towerwomen across the southern forests of WA whose sole task is to spend hours on sentry duty.

Mr Hoffman, like many tower watchers employed by Parks and Wildlife, is also a volunteer firefighter. He has ways of staying alert and on task which is not an easy job when it is hot and the cabin is swaying in the wind. "I catch-up on things, I read a little, catch-up on sleep — no, no, I'm just joking," Mr Hoffman said.

Reading and sleep is out of the question for plenty of reasons, but one is that towermen and women have to fill out detailed weather logs to record wind direction, temperature and humidity, with that data relayed back to base every hour.The Perth Hills is a hotspot for fires started by nature, or by humans ignoring fire restrictions, or worse."And there's a lot of arson as well, so we don't want to miss the opportunity to get on top of those events as soon as possible.

 

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EdanCockerell I used to do this as an employee for a contractor for HQP. Sitting in a 30m wooden tower on days when there's 50km/hr + winds is not fun 😂

The fire towers around where I grew up had nothing as fancy as these ones do today. A map, a chair if you were lucky, and a siren. BYO binoculars. Oh, and a lock on the trap door so don't climb up before you check you have the key.

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