Two new reports on Victoria’s bushfire management by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM) have been released.

Summary of investigations into breaches of planned burn control lines 2016-17

The Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM) has today released a report Summary of investigations into Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning breaches of planned burn control lines 2016-17.

The report shows that of the 353 planned burns undertaken in 2016-17, there were eight breaches of control lines during the period 1 July 2016 to 1 July 2017.

In each case, these breaches were quickly contained and reported to IGEM.

The report identifies five themes, eight findings and makes six recommendations highlighting opportunities for DELWP and our delivery partners within Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic), to improve its conduct of planned burns in Victoria

The main themes identified relate to:

  • planning and administration of the planned burn prior to ignition
  • preparation of the planned burn area prior to ignition
  • resourcing, ignition, conduct, and management of the planned burn
  • monitoring and patrolling the planned burn; and
  • analysis of planned burn breaches.

This report follows the previous IGEM report Summary of investigations into Department of Environment, Land, Water and planning breaches of planned burn control lines 1 January to 30 June 2016, where DELWP reported eight breaches of control lines to the IGEM. In response to this, DELWP provided a range of management actions – all of which have been fully implemented.

Importantly, we have introduced three other controls to improve planned burning.

  1. FFMVic and Country Fire Authority (CFA) developed a five year plan Safer Together which puts community first in the delivery of planned burning.
  2. FFMVic developed an Audit and Quality Assurance Framework for Bushfire Management which sets out a rolling four year plan of internal audits and operational quality and assurance reviews.
  3. FFMVic made substantial operational changes by developing a new version of the fire management manual that guides the delivery of the planned burning program, implemented a new planned burn risk assessment tool, and delivered risk management awareness training to all staff with fire roles.

This is now an annual report delivered as part of a recommendation for the IGEM to manage the prompt investigation and reporting of any breaches of control lines by a planned burn conducted by DELWP following the Lancefield-Cobaw Croziers Track fire in October 2015.

Annual report – Implementation of recommendations from Review of performance targets for bushfire fuel management on public land (Inspector-General for Emergency Management – May 2015) – October 2017

This second and final progress report: Annual Report - Implementation of recommendations from Review of performance targets for bushfire fuel management on public land (Inspector-General for Emergency Management – May 2015)October 2017, commends DELWP and its partner agencies on the significant progress made, and the continuing commitment to bushfire management reform since the 2015 Review of performance targets for bushfire fuel management on public land and the Independent Investigation of the Lancefield-Cobaw Fire.

The newly released IGEM report shows that all four recommendations from the fuel management review have been implemented and a new approach to reducing the risk of bushfire has been adopted.

The focus is now on the effectiveness of bushfire risk reduction actions, with the previous hectare-based fuel reduction target replaced with a risk reduction target.

The report notes DELWP has also completed work on:

  • predicting the effect of smoke from planned burning
  • ensuring community engagement is effective
  • reliably estimating the cost of risk reduction
  • providing clear reports on bushfire risk and ecosystem resilience for the community to access
  • and reviewing its transition to risk-based planning.

The IGEM is satisfied that one action from the Lancefield-Cobaw investigation has been completed, while work is continuing on two other recommendations: to develop a cross-tenure operating model for planned burning, and to consider fuel management alternatives. Progress on these recommendations will be monitored and included in the IGEM’s 2017-18 annual planned burn breaches report.

The IGEM also commended the partnership between DELWP, CFA, Emergency Management Victoria and Parks Victoria to deliver Safer Together, the Victorian Government’s new approach to reducing the risks of bushfire. It focuses on how effective risk reduction actions are, not just the amount of work done.

The government is committed to transparency and working with the community to ensure fuel reduction is effectively managed across Victoria.

You can read both reports via: www.igem.vic.gov.au

Categories