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45th Big Desert Fire Conference
More than 60 people converged on the Mallee town of Patchewollock last week for the 45th annual Big Desert/ Wyperfeld Fire Conference.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) organised the event which was attended by representatives of DEPI, CFA, Parks Victoria, Victoria Police, South Australia’s Country Fire Service and the Department of Environment and Heritage plus local contractors and landholders.
In addition to CFA operations staff from Districts 17 and 18, there was a large contingent of volunteers from both districts, as always.
District 18 Operations Officer John Breaks is enthusiastic about the benefits of the annual event.
“It’s a really good opportunity to network with other agencies before the fire season,” he said. “It’s ideally timed. Each agency gives a report on their work over the past year and also talks about their plans and preparedness for the coming season.
“We’re spread out up here so this gives us the chance to meet face-to-face in a central location and find out who’s who.”
The conference began at the Patchewollock Community Centre at 10am with agency and group reports. After lunch, participants travelled to Pine Plains to view a planned burn that was undertaken in Wyperfeld National Park in autumn 2012. They also did a drive through the park to look at the vegetation and landscape.
“The field trips are always really helpful,” continued John. “Last year we visited the outskirts of some towns to consider risk in the interface, so each year is very different.”
“The annual Big Desert/Wyperfeld Fire Conference is an opportunity to discuss the issues and protocols surrounding emergency situations in the Mallee,” said DEPI’s Mallee Fire District Manager Phil Murdoch
“The conference fosters cooperation and understanding between people who work to protect local communities and respond to emergencies."