With the current weather conditions not being favourable to conduct many planned burns across the state we have been very much in planning stage for our spring program.

Chris Hardman However, if opportunities arise over the coming months our Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) crews are ready.

The winter months also provide us with the opportunity to complete mechanical fuel treatments such as mulching and slashing in those areas where planned burns can’t be done.

Last month saw the anniversary of the storms and floods emergency that struck large parts of Victoria 12 months ago. They were some of the most severe storm conditions ever experienced across Victoria.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and FFMVic personnel were there right from the very start, working alongside our fellow emergency services both in the field and in control centres.

All agencies can be very proud of what they have achieved throughout the emergency and the recovery effort.

FFMVic staff have achieved an enormous amount in the 12 months since the emergency, including:

  • working with councils to support Victorians rebuilding destroyed or damaged homes
  • assessing nearly 200 Aboriginal heritage places in partnership with Traditional Owners
  • assessing impacts on up to 100 historic heritage sites, from historic mine sites across Gippsland to heritage places in the township of Walhalla.
  • repairing and reinstating more than half of the damaged bridges and crossings.
  • reopening more than 5,600 kilometres of park and forest roads.
  • clearing more than 5,700 kilometres of public land roads of hazardous trees
  • reopening most of the affected fire access network before the 2021-22 fire season.
  • reopening more than 4 in 5 recreation sites and walking tracks that had to be closed
  • installing dozens of nesting boxes and creating hollows for threatened species in areas where habitat was damaged

This is an extremely impressive body of work often undertaken in challenging circumstances and I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to all of the staff involved.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all those emergency services personnel who were recognised in the Queens’ Birthday Honours especially FFMVic’s Josephine Hunter, Manager Forest and Fire Fleet who was awarded an Emergency Services Medal for her outstanding leadership in her volunteer role with the SES.

Congratulations also to the over 46 staff from across Port Phillip and Barwon South West regions were recently recognised for their outstanding commitment to protecting communities during emergencies when they were presented with their National Emergency Medals.

And finally for this month, applications are now open for FFMVic’s seasonal firefighter roles. We are looking to recruit 300 project firefighters (PFFs) to help keep Victorians safe in the upcoming fire season. Designated positions are also available for applicants who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Applications close 31 July 2022. Find out more at jobs.careers.vic.gov.au/pff

I’m really looking forward to meeting the new PFF recruits when they start later this year. I am sure each and every one of them will bring unique skills and perspectives to their work.

Until next month,

Chris Hardman, Chief Fire Officer