Ash Wednesday Commemoration

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On Sunday 12 February, hundreds of CFA members will join families, emergency services sector partners and local community members to mark the 40th anniversary of Ash Wednesday, one of the most significant bushfire events in Australian history.


16 February 2023 marks the 40th anniversary of Ash Wednesday.

More than 180 fires occurred on that day in 1983, including eight major blazes in many towns and regional communities across the state. It is estimated more than 16,000 firefighters battled the fires which claimed the lives of 47 Victorians.

CFA is commemorating this anniversary with a state-based service on Sunday 12 February 2023 at the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre (AWBEC) in McBride Street, Cockatoo. 

The location was chosen following consultation with VFBV and the Veterans of Ash Wednesday Group as the location provides an overview of the eight major fires on the day.

We are holding this service on the Sunday prior to the anniversary to enable local communities and brigades to mark the actual date in their own way.

CFA members, CFA Board and Executive members, families and local community members will be joined by representatives from the Victorian Government, EMV, VFBV, FRV, FFMVic, VicPol, Parks Victoria, VICSES, Ambulance Victoria, local government and AFAC at the event.

Capacity at the AWBEC is limited, and expressions of interest to attend the event at this venue have now closed.

A large community viewing space at an adjoining grass amphitheatre will be available and a large screen will provide vision of official proceedings which are being held across several locations on the day.

For any members who plan to attend in person, we encourage you to arrive early to secure a space and to bring picnic chairs and rugs as we cannot guarantee seating. Any children attending the event must be supervised by an accompanying parent/guardian/carer.

For those who are unable or who would prefer not to attend, a livestream of the event will be available on CFA’s YouTube Channel as well as the CFA website and Members Online.

For more information visit the Ash Wednesday 40th Anniversary page on Members Online or the CFA website.

For information about location accessibility please contact

Anniversaries of significant events such as the Ash Wednesday fires can bring up difficult memories and feelings including sadness, fear and grief.

If you find yourself experiencing strong emotions, we recommend that you contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 which offer support services nationwide.

CFA members and their families can contact the CFA Wellbeing Support Line for free, confidential 24/7 access to psychologists, counsellors, peers and chaplains. The Organisational Wellbeing Team has also developed a Tip Sheet: Coping with Difficult Anniversaries.



Submitted by CFA News