Emergency services personnel are coming together over the next four weeks to prepare for this year’s upcoming fire season through multi-agency briefings in several locations across North West, Eastern and Southern Metro regions.
Senior Victorian operational personnel will join regional and metropolitan emergency management personnel for briefings on the localised bushfire and flood outlook, specific local risks, and to ensure they are prepared to respond and work with communities to keep them safe.
There will be four briefings in the North West, Eastern and Southern Metro regions, starting in Wantirna South on Thursday, 6 October and concluding in Sunbury on Thursday, 27 October.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the multi-agency briefings were an important part of preparedness activities.
“As a sector, we’re continuing our preparedness into the higher-risk weather season, not only for the risk of fires, but also for floods and storms. It’s important that Victorians continue their preparations too,” he said.
“Good information will always lead to good decisions. It’s important to know where you can get emergency information, including the VicEmergency app, VicEmergency Facebook and Twitter, and know who your emergency broadcasters are.”
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said these briefings are a great opportunity to meet with our emergency service partners and talk about the local risks and the best way we can prepare, and help the community prepare, for the season ahead.
“Even though we are expecting an average or lower than average fire season in some areas, the greatest risk for the metropolitan region is grassland along the urban fringe,” CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said.
“Grassfires travel faster than you can run, they can cause extensive damage and potentially be fatal. This is the time for the community to be preparing their properties.
“Have a fire plan in place with your household and keep an eye on warnings in your area. Keep you and your loved ones safe by being prepared this fire season.”
Fire Rescue Victoria Commissioner Ken Block said summer season preparedness is a shared responsibility between the emergency management sector and the Victorian community.
“We are working alongside our emergency service colleagues to undertake significant planning and preparedness activities to ensure that we are ready to respond to all emergency incidents this fire season, however it is important Victorians do their part too.
“It’s important you understand your fire risk and get prepared now, don’t wait until a fire starts. Make sure you and everyone in your household knows what to do during the summer period, when fires can start and spread quickly.
“If you live near grasslands, you need to understand the risks associated with fast-moving grassfires. If a fire starts in grasslands near your home, walk two streets back and keep clear of responding emergency services,” Commissioner Block said.
Chief Officer Operations of the Victoria State Emergency Service, Tim Wiebusch, said that as the outlook suggests a wet spring and early summer thanks to a third consecutive La Nina event, it’s important Victorians begin to plan for floods and storms, with an emergency plan in place.
“VICSES volunteers are highly trained and will be ready and prepared to respond to requests for assistance to flood and storm events as required, however we are asking communities to prepare too. Make sure you stay informed and listen to the advice of emergency services as warnings are issued.”
While we are preparing for a high-risk season, it’s vital Victorians never drive on flooded roads. It can take just 15cm of water to float a small car”, he said.
FFMVic Port Phillip Deputy Chief Fire Officer Tamara Beckett said that the agency is well prepared for any challenges that may arise over the summer period.
“Fire preparedness and fuel management is a year-round program, our staff have been busy protecting local communities from the threat of fire through planned burning, maintaining and construction new strategic fuel breaks, storm recovery efforts and the removal of hazardous trees,” she said.
“Our highly trained and experienced full-time and seasonal staff are ready and willing to work alongside our partner agencies to face any challenge that might come our way in the upcoming months be that fire, flood or storms.”
These sessions are part of a broader schedule of in-person key preparedness briefings which takes place across Melbourne, Gippsland, Hume, Loddon Mallee, Barwon South West, Grampians and other regions. The in-person briefings will conclude in Wodonga on 9 November.
The fire danger rating system has changed to the Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS) and is now nationally consistent across every state and territory.
The system reduces the number of danger levels from six under the previous system, to four.
The new levels are:
- Moderate: Plan and prepare
- High: Prepare to act
- Extreme: Take action now to protect your life and property
- Catastrophic: For your survival, leave bush fire risk areas
Victorians can familiarise themselves with the new fire danger rating system and check the ratings daily this summer on the VicEmergency app or the CFA website.
Upcoming briefings in Metro regions:
- Monday, 17 October: Southern Metro – Dandenong
- Friday, 21 October: Eastern Metro – Wantirna South
- Thursday, 27 October: North West Metro – Sunbury