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Extensive involvement in incident management
Like everyone else in CFA, Northern and Western Metropolitan region has been involved extensively in incident management since early January, both with very active fast-running fires in the region, and extensive support by strike teams and incident management personnel into south-west Victoria, Gippsland, New South Wales and Tasmania.
More recently, the region experienced its largest interface fire in many years with the 2,000-hectare Kalkallo-Donnybrook fire. The fire was a great cooperative effort across all emergency services.
I would like to thank everyone for their enthusiastic support and patience as we go through what has turned out to be a very busy fire season, and hopefully the recent rain will give us all a well-earned breather. I have been proud to observe the highly professional and committed response of brigades and staff from around the region during this period. Thank you all.
An interesting observation since the fires in the region is the increased community participation in Fire Ready Victoria meetings. In one location, where not a single person had turned up for sessions in the last two years, more than 100 people attended a session held a week after a local fire. There are similar stories elsewhere in the region. This shows the challenges we face with our community education campaigns.
In the shadow of the tragic deaths of three DSE firefighters over the last few weeks, coupled with the memories invoked by the 30th anniversary of the Ash Wednesday fires where 13 CFA volunteers including five from Panton Hill brigade lost their lives, I would also remind you to stay safe and look after yourselves and your colleagues. I remind you of the importance of key safety messages, such as keeping yourself well-hydrated and wearing seat belts wherever possible.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan recently announced the purchase by CFA of land at Brougham Street, Eltham, for a new fire station. This announcement brings to an end many years of searching for a site to replace the existing station. A brigade building committee has been formed and architects appointed. Concept plans are currently being developed prior to public consultation and submission to the planning process. Given the scale of the project and the complex planning environment in Eltham, it's not anticipated that the station will be finished until late 2014 at the earliest. I would like to thank all members of Eltham brigade for their patience over the years and at last we have a way forward.