I recently had the privilege to attend the Australian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) Conference in Adelaide.

Chris Hardman It was a great opportunity to catch up with the fire chiefs from around Australia as well as people from across a wide range of first response agencies, government, academia, community, not-for-profit, building, environment, and engineering sectors to learn, collaborate, network, and share knowledge.

While there, AFAC released the spring seasonal bushfire outlook.

The predicted weather conditions for spring mean that while some of our regions will be able to conduct planned burns, other regions will look for opportunities to complete mechanical fuel management works such as clearing, mowing, and slashing, and creating and maintaining fuel breaks.

Our Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) crews don’t normally complete many planned burns over the winter period, so it was pleasing to see that both our Gippsland and Barwon South West regions managed to complete several this year.

As we move into spring there will be opportunities to complete more of our planned burn program with some of our regions already pencilling in dates for the next couple of weeks.

We will continue to take every opportunity to manage bushfire risk all year round, with different tools and methods, so we are well prepared for the bushfire season.

It is important to remember that even an average fire season can be dangerous in Victoria, one of the most bushfire-prone areas in the world.

Just like we are prepared, Victorians need to be prepared for bushfires whether they live, work, or visit areas at risk of fire.

People using fire such as campfires must always know and follow the rules.

While the weather hasn’t been suitable for planned burning our crews have been able to deliver other important works across the state.

In Loddon Mallee, the Roading team successfully delivered 600 kilometres of upgraded roads, improving firefighter access and egress in state forests and national parks. Approximately $1.27 million of upgrades, maintenance and capital projects were delivered, funded through the Reducing Bushfire Risk program, with works including grading, sheeting, maintaining crossings, culverts, and grooming.

Just another example of the work we do to prepare for the bushfire season outside our fuel management program.

Recovery work continues across Gippsland. Some of the key achievements delivered by FFMVic crews include:

  • Over 10,000kms of road repaired and reopened
  • More than 85 recreation sites reopened
  • Over 250 sets of culverts replaced for improved drainage
  • 8 fire damaged structures replaced with new crossings
  • Mallacoota’s Betka Beach seawall rebuilt using steel and concrete
  • Survey and seed collection of the critically endangered Avon Peppermint

Well done to all those staff who have worked on these major undertakings.

Until next month.

Chris Hardman
Chief Fire Officer