Early start for winter, early start for CFA

The lead-up to the 2019 snow season, accompanied by some heavy snowfalls, meant that many people had to kick into gear a little earlier than expected.


Commander Scragg with members of Mt Buller Fire Brigade, conducting a two line fog attack.

This was not the case for CFA, however, as prevention and preparedness is always at the forefront when it comes to community safety.

In the lead-up to the Queen’s Birthday opening weekend of the Victorian alpine resorts, CFA’s pre-season was busy with fire safety and education activities across the three main alpine resorts of Falls Creek, Mt Hotham/Dinner Plain and Mt Buller.

The alpine brigades, in conjunction with Districts 23, 24 and CFA HQ, participated in an alpine pre-season meeting at Mt Buller in mid-May, hosted by the brigade. This was an opportunity for the alpine brigade captains, first lieutenants, and associated district, operational and HQ staff to meet, engage, and collaborate. 

It was a forum in which ideas could be shared, and issues discussed. This was a great initiative that was agreed would occur each year, with the location rotated between each mountain.

Mt Buller brigade conducted a pre-season training day that involved relay pumping, a two-line fog attack and extinguisher use. Training props were brought up the hill and positioned in the Horsehill car park for the practical training. In the evening the focus was on the use of CFA’s computer fire simulation training. 

Mt Buller brigade also conducted pre-season fire plug inspection ready for winter. 

At Falls Creek, the end of May started with a fire safety morning for all the new Falls Creek ski lifts (FCSL) chairlift operators, as well as meetings with Falls Creek Resort Management (FCRM), FCSL, the alpine municipal building surveyor and other community members.

CFA commanders had the opportunity to present CFA fire safety messages at various stakeholder briefing nights. Mt Hotham’s stakeholder briefing was conducted in Melbourne in mid-March, where Commander Lyndon Bradley represented CFA.

At Falls Creek a stakeholder briefing night was held on Tuesday 4 June.

CFA's key focus for winter 2019 are:

  • Essential service measures compliance and updated fire safety plans
  • Management of fire safety and detection equipment (to reduce or eliminate the number of false alarms)
  • Adopting a hydrant (ie assisting resort and CFA to clear the hydrants outside premises in the event of snow build-up. which can delay operational response)
  • Operational response enhancement with the quick response vehicles
  • Promotion of warden training and premises-led evacuations
  • Maintaining a positive community presence.

2019 CFA fire warden information breakfasts for alpine resort communities

Commander Lyndon Bradley developed enhanced stakeholder engagement including fire warden information breakfasts for alpine resort owners, managers and wardens.

A breakfast was held for the Dinner Plain community on Tuesday 4 June at the Ramada Resort, attended by 10 key stakeholders. This was facilitated by Lyndon. The session incorporated the CFA computer simulation team, whose innovative technology was used to demonstrate the roles of fire wardens and the practical tasks that should be performed.

On Wednesday morning (5 June), CFA hosted a fire warden information breakfast in Falls Creek. This session mirrored the content covered the previous day in Dinner Plain. Nineteen participants attended, and there were some great questions and discussions.

A further breakfast will be conducted at Mt Buller in the coming weeks.

Thanks to the Ramada Resort (Dinner Plain) and Elk@Falls (Falls Creek) for their hospitality. Also thanks to the D24 Operations and Community Education teams for support and logistics to enable CFA to successfully implement these pre-winter season activities.

Throughout the 2019 snow season, CFA’s intent is to continue proactive work to ensure that all people are safe from fire and other emergencies in the alpine environment. There are many fire safety materials available to educate the alpine resort communities. 

Several new members have signed up with Mt Buller brigade already this season and the brigade is planning a recruitment night in the near future. It also plans to hold a lodge owner/manager information session to promote what Mt Buller Fire Brigade does and what it can offer the Mt Buller community.

Falls Creek has also had a few existing volunteers from other CFA brigades join up to offer their services throughout the winter, whilst they are working for the winter season. In addition, there have also been some new members join up to commence their Alpine Minimum Skills Training.

The success of CFA pre-winter season activities and initiatives would not be available without the collective efforts across Operations, Community Engagement and Fire Safety, as well as the alpine brigades and their members.

It indeed was an early start for winter in 2019, and an early start for CFA. And here’s to another winter season where CFA can continue to keep alpine resort communities safe.


Article produced by Commanders James Wong (Falls Creek), Lyndon Bradley (Mt Hotham/Dinner Plain) and Paul Scragg (Mt Buller)

Wongy’s FCSL fire safety session included a practical extinguisher demonstration

Presenting the CFA focus at the Falls Creek Stakeholders Briefing

Commander Bradley presenting the Alpine Safety Forum 2019 at the Falls Creek CFA Fire Warden Information Breakfasts, with Aaron and Paul supporting with their computer simulation warden program.

Each premise that was represented at the CFA Fire Warden Information Breakfast receive a Fire Warden vest and helmet

CFA fire safety information developed specifically for alpine resort accommodation.

Author: James Wong