On Saturday 70+ Forest Fire Management Victoria fighters responded to the Carrum Downs fire that burnt 34 hectares across both private and public land.

The fire started just before 3pm on Saturday and took 300 crews from across CFA and FFMVic approximately five hours to control.

Jill Gallucci, Project Leader Emergency Management, was involved in the weekend’s operations and said getting to bushfires on Melbourne’s urban fringes quickly is critical for the Port Phillip team.

“On Saturday, we had homes being impacted within half an hour of the fire beginning. Response times in these interface areas and in conditions this extreme is critical.”

Coordinating a bushfire response by multiple agencies is a complex process, but one Jill says has been well-rehearsed.

“We work together all year to ensure all procedures are in place in event of fires like this so we’re ready to go to work together.”

“When we know it’s going to be hot, dry and windy with a severe to extreme fire danger, we have a joint standard operating procedure, which outlines what resources are needed. That’s why we had a multi-agency team at Dandenong Incident Control Centre ahead of time in readiness to manage any fires.”

Tafi Rukodzi was one of our team who turned out to the fire. The father of three lives just five minutes from the site of the fire.

“The park where the field operations were set up is the one where I take my kids to play.”

“By the time I got there, the fire was under control, so our focus on the night shift was on back burning and patrolling hot spots.”

Tafi, who has worked as a safety adviser for FFMVic for three years, and his family have a fire preparedness plan. He also checked the VicEmergency app regularly during Saturday’s searing heat, which is how he was alerted to the nearby fire in the first place.

“My wife knows about all the warnings and what she needs to do. You need to take all the advice very seriously, especially on those very hot days.”

Visit www.emergency.vic.gov.au for information on being prepared for bushfires. You can also download the VicEmergency app for free.

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