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Reflecting on Ash Wednesday
Today (16 February) marks the anniversary of the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983.
47 Victorians and 23 South Australians lost their lives during these fires, including 14 CFA firefighters and three South Australian firefighters.
I was a volunteer firefighter at this time, and my recollection of Ash Wednesday is that it was a one day wonder – all the events occurred on this single day, and then it rained the following day. If we move forward to Black Saturday in 2009, again all the incidents and heartfelt loss occurred in that one single day.
For us, we lost firefighters back in 1983, and I wear a badge today for fallen Victoria Police members, to recognise that at different times all our emergency services have had personnel give their lives to protect the community.
Last weekend was the first extreme weather weekend we’ve had this summer, and it occurred in New South Wales (NSW) – where there were around 80 fires burning across the state.
Victoria sent large air tankers to support the firefighting efforts in NSW, and CFA’s Deputy Chief Officer Gregg Paterson and MFB’s Deputy Chief Greg Leech were at the NSW Rural Fire Service Headquarters working out how we could provide further support, whether that be through management teams, strike teams or additional aircraft.
Today, let’s reflect on Ash Wednesday, and remember those who lost their lives, those who lost their properties, and our firefighters – who gave their lives to serve our community.