What motivated Barry Megee, a CFA volunteer to develop the Monbulk Fire Management Plan?
At a community meeting, people said Monbulk would burn if a bushfire started; he set out to prove them wrong.
Barry, a Monbulk Fire Brigade member for over 24 years, admits he has a strong interest in fuel management and fire behaviour. Barry has been sitting on the Dandenong Ranges Bushfire Landscape Project and assisted in the development of a practitioner’s guide about bushfire fuel management.
He then went on to become the driving force behind the development of the Monbulk Fire Management Plan together with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Yarra Ranges Shire, Land Care, Melbourne Water and community groups. As a result, many other towns across Victoria will soon have the opportunity to benefit from the success of the Monbulk model.
So successful in fact, that in the summer of 2017-18 there were only eight fire prevention notices issued to residents by the local shire, compared to 33 notices issued the previous year.
“This has really been a team effort by so many agencies and groups to come up with a fire management plan that works for Monbulk, but can also be applied as a template for any regional town that’s at risk of bushfire,” said Barry.
“I’m honoured and humbled that someone nominated me for the Spirit of CFA Awards, and to make it as a finalist. I didn’t set out to do this for the recognition; I just had the interest, some skills and I knew where to go to ask for help.
“Tapping into resources like DELWP and their Phoenix system to provide a scientific explanation for how a potential fire and subsequent embers could impact Monbulk, and where a fire would most likely start was crucial. It informed the development of the plan, actions required, enabled buy-in from all relevant stakeholders.
“Not all communities know how to access the right information or know the steps to take to create a meaningful plan that can tangibly help reduce the impact of fire and potentially save lives.
“I get a nice feeling knowing that the work I’ve contributed to has the potential to benefit many communities; it makes me think that the years of work are worth it.
“To be honest doing what I do for the community just makes me feel good, not proud but good. Not to mention I’ve really enjoyed working with all the various groups and agency staff, as I’ve been able to share my experiences and I’ve learnt so much from them too.”
Barry has been nominated as a finalist in the Spirit of CFA Awards in the Community Engagement category. The winners will be announced this Sunday at an awards ceremony at the Mercure Hotel in Ballarat.