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PAVS along the Great Ocean Road
Backing up the year-in, year-out work done by Wye River Fire Brigade, among others, to ensure its community is well informed about risk, is the Property Advice Visit Service (PAVS) team. Like other Victorian PAVS teams, they target towns on Level One of the Victorian Fire Risk Register where all houses are doorknocked.
Lisa Parker is a PAVS team leader in the South West working under Phil O’Keefe, and was one of the team that doorknocked Wye River and Separation Creek in February 2015. South West PAVS training has been extended to ensure that volunteers are part of the team mix.
The team has now completed the PAVS doorknocking service from Moggs Creek all the way through Lorne and will return within the next year.
Lisa explains the process.
“When residents are home, we have a conversation with them about how prepared are you, what’s your fire plan, what’s your back up-plan, where do you access your information, do you have the Fire Ready app on your phone, are you aware of the fire danger ratings and what’s your trigger to leave.
“During the visit we give each household an information folder with a checklist which we go through with them. Included are questions that give their local brigade get vital information such as do they have a water tank with CFA fittings and can a fire truck access their property. We also give them an information pack with a leave-early template.
“As we walk around their property with them, we use the checklist to suggest possible changes to their property like removing branches that touch the roof and using pebbles rather than plant-based mulch.
“It’s all about getting them to work with us. People are receptive when we work together.”
Anyone not home at the time of the visit is left the same householder checklist, a Leave Early booklet, Your Guide to Survival and an information sheet.
The South West team comes across a lot of householders who went through Ash Wednesday and know that bushfires don’t just happen to other people in other places.
“Leaving early was a very strong plan all the way along the Great Ocean Road,” continues Lisa, “and most of them had a leave-early kit including medication or prescriptions, pet plans, wool blankets, a battery-powered radio, torch and phone charger along with water, food and documents. Most people we spoke to planned to leave when the rating reached Severe with a lot of others planning to go to the beach.
“People are so appreciative and so positive about what we’re doing. They’re so open to learning.”