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Fire safety at the snowfields

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Volunteers facing the challenges of preparing, responding and recovering from fire and emergencies in the alpine areas will be better supported, with the creation of CFA’s first Alpine Commander.

Fire safety at the snowfields

The new role will further boost CFA’s service to the popular alpine resorts of Falls Creek, Mt Hotham-Dinner Plain, and Mt Buller.

The position will ensure a dedicated, year-round approach to managing the unique challenges faced by the resorts through the summer months, and add to the work already conducted by the Commander position stationed at Falls Creek and at Mt Hotham-Dinner Plain during winter months since 2001, and Mt Buller since 2009.

Alpine Commander Mark Owens will become the first member to take on the position, having previously worked as a Winter Commander at Falls Creek.

“Where I am now is just an extension of that; I will be dedicated to the whole alpine area for the entire year, not just one resort during the snow season,” he said.

“The risk of structure fire during winter is especially significant as the population and tourism increases, as does the risk of a fire in a building, lodge, or even ski lift infrastructure.

“During the summer, most bushfires start within public land areas and move towards the alpine villages where it is our responsibility to protect life and property, just like any other town in the state.

“One of the biggest issues we face during the summer is that we don’t have as many volunteers around on the mountains, so this role will help address issues such as that which are unique to the alpine resorts.”

Commander Owens will oversee the implantation of CFA’s first Alpine Service Delivery Strategy Plan, which is based on five key areas: enhancing volunteer workforce, community safety, building safety and compliance, improving fleet infrastructure and equipment, and improving services with stakeholders.

Commander Owens will also facilitate the introduction of three new alpine pumpers, with one of the large snow-capable vehicles expected to come online at each alpine resort by the start of next year’s snow season.