CFA has released its incident response data from January to March of 2020, a period in which Victorian firefighters battled some of the worst bushfires in the state’s history by the end of which they adapted to operating within challenging covid-19 restrictions.
Across this extremely busy and challenging period, CFA brigades responded to 12,666 incidents (down from 13,577 incidents during the same quarter the year before), more than half of which (6,196) required an emergency response (down from 7,015).
Quarter Three data showed that overall the community received a fire service within the standard response time in 88 per cent of emergencies, which was broadly consistent with previous quarters.
CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said during the same time, CFA firefighters from across the state joined strike teams to fight the devastating fires in East Gippsland and the North East.
“Not only did they help fight some of the most devastating bushfires that Victoria has seen for a long time, but our firefighters also upheld an amazing service to their own communities and I could not be more proud,” he said.
The quarter started the day of a major CFA operation to change a shift by air when the exhausted crews that protected 4000 residents and tourists sheltering on the Mallacoota foreshore on the last day of the year were replaced by fresh firefighters.
More than 500,000 hectares had already burnt across East Gippsland, and a further 1 million hectares would burn before the fires were brought under control towards the end of the quarter.
By the end of March, 400 homes had been lost as bushfires devastated much of East Gippsland, including Mallacoota, Sarsfield and Buchan, and impacted large parts of Victoria’s North East, including Corryong.
“Despite these significant losses, I’m proud of our firefighters who saved many houses by bunkering down with communities as the fire front came through. Many of them were cut off from the rest of Victoria when roads closed following the fires,” Acting Chief Officer Cook said.
Acting Chief Officer Cook said the incident response data highlighted CFA members’ commitment across all types of emergencies, whether bushfires, house fires, road accidents or emergency medical response.
Sadly, the statistics showed three people died in fires during the quarter.
One of them lost their life in the Victorian bushfires, while two died in house fires.
“It goes to show that while a lot of focus was on bushfire safety during summer, residential fires were also devastating to our community,” Acting Chief Officer Cook said.
“We’re now in winter, where the risk of house fires is statistically higher, and I urge all community members to help us save lives by installing smoke alarms in all bedrooms and living areas and checking them regularly to make sure that they are working,” he said.
For all CFA brigades, the Community Service Delivery Standard compliance rate was 88 per cent.
• CFA and other fire services responded to 89 per cent of fires in significant urban areas within the standard response time of 8 minutes
• CFA and other fire services responded to 89 per cent of fires in all other urban areas within the standard response time of 10 minutes
• CFA and other fire services responded to 99 per cent of fires in areas with predominantly natural surroundings within the standard response time of 20 minutes.
Response data is reported by Hazard Class, which defines the risk type for a given area. Each brigade area may contain multiple Hazard Classes. Each Hazard Class has a Service Delivery Standard, a predefined response time target for brigades attending emergency events.
Find out more about CFA response times at: cfa.vic.gov.au/about/emergency-response-times