Fire authorities have assessed Tolmie as having an extreme fire risk. To help residents better plan for their safety during a fire, CFA, Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) and the Mansfield Shire Council hosted a bushfire scenario session.
Over 100 residents attended the Sunday afternoon event at the Tolmie community hall.
The scenario was run as part of the Safer Together program to increase resident’s awareness of the bushfire risk in communities.
The afternoon opened with the FFMVic District Manager for the Hume region, Scott Edwards speaking about the public land estate and the corresponding risks to the township, as well as briefly outlining FFMVic’s fire response role.
The scenario began using the CFA Sim table to demonstrate the likely speed and spread of a fire starting in a local nature reserve with weather conditions those of a typical summers day.
Tolmie and District Brigade Captain Rob Allen provided information on how long the brigade could take to get to the scene of the fire and the likely time frame for surrounding resources to arrive and assist. This came as a surprise to many residents who hadn’t considered the distance many of the neighbouring brigades had to travel.
Observing the probable spread of the fire was combined with actual video footage of fires to demonstrate what conditions could be like and round table discussions with active involvement by residents who shared past experiences, local knowledge and conversations about fire plans and likely actions.
The session was followed by a BBQ at the Tolmie Fire station where the relaxed environment encouraged more questions and conversations with brigade and agency members.
Overwhelmingly residents responded that seeing the conditions that could develop on a day they wouldn’t consider particularly risky, had reinforced the need to check the validity of their fire plans to ensure they were not putting themselves and their families at risk. The videos that were shown also made an impression as there was lots of discussion on the risks of leaving late.