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How group officers plan for risk: part three
Over a series of five interviews, we talk to group officers across our regions to find out about their local risks and how they prepare for the summer.
Darren Hoggan, Heywood Group, District 4
Heywood Group Officer of 11 years, Darren Hoggan is more than ready for the season ahead. With a wealth of knowledge behind him and a proactive group of brigades by his side, Heywood Group is as prepared as ever.
“Most of our brigades are training together, trying to get across the hazardous trees training and working on the burnover drills,” said Darren.
“Heywood Group brigades are pretty proactive, which is great especially when it comes to getting ready for summer.”
The Heywood Group can be found in the bottom south-west corner of Victoria, and includes a coast guard brigade. Like many other areas, last year was a quiet fire season.
“It was a very, very, very quiet bushfire season in 2016 and at the moment we’ve got green grass everywhere. But that could change overnight.
“We usually have one decently-sized grass and scrub fire every few years. We haven’t had one of those in a while.
“The last big one we experienced was the grass and scrub fire in Cashmore a couple of years ago. In saying that, all brigades are prepared as much as they can be, and we have the strike team roster worked out already so the fireys can be ready.
“I’m also very proud of the relationship we have with our firefighting counterparts, Forest Fire Management Victoria.
“We exchange notes and assist in burns along rail lines. We work together on prescribed burning and an invitation is sent to our members. We try to provide as many personnel as we can.
“It’s a relationship that works.”
The Heywood Group is home to a lot of blue gum plantations and infrastructure such as the Port of Portland.
“Port of Portland is the second largest port, which can create a fair few calls. It has created the need for a fully-manned station which will be running 24/7 after this December.
“We also have a switch yard and multiple chip mills, which is a lot of infrastructure for a small town.”
Written by Nicole Russo