Glenelg's fire & emergency conference

The inaugural Glenelg Fire & Emergency Management Conference was held on Wednesday 9 September at Dartmoor with the theme of 'shared responsibility' and was hailed a huge success. 

More than 130 people from the emergency management sector, timber industry, community groups and members of the public attended the conference. Organised by the Municipal Emergency Management Committee, it provided an opportunity for members of the public to spend a day with emergency service agencies to share bushfire preparedness, response and recovery case studies around the Dartmoor and Nelson area, and was an opportunity to ask questions, gather information and gain an inside look into fire and emergency management practices.

The day started with a morning tea provided by the Dartmoor Football & Netball Club before the conference was opened by CR Karen Stephens who introduced the Municipal Emergency Management Committee.

Mike Harper from DELWP and Peter Novotny from CFA outlined the purpose of the conference and the day’s program.

Andy Govanstone from DELWP gave an informative presentation about DELWP fire management zoning and the bushfire modelling tool use to predict fire spread and potential threats to towns.

After Andy’s presentation it was all aboard buses for a field trip to a harvested plantation site where Adrian Marti from Ausralian Bluegum Plantation gave a talk about hardwood plantation harvesting practices. The discussion included harvest residue and the fire risk as well as replanting practices. It was very informative and well received by the attendees.

After lunch back at Dartmoor Football Club rooms, it was on board the buses again for a field trip to Jones’ Ridge lookout where Dartmoor Group Officer Neale Emerson spoke about his first-hand experience fighting the 2013 Kentbruck fire that swept through the area. Neale spoke about the use of local private units and how they were integrated with the operations at the time. Acting Senior Sergeant Ryan Nelson spoke about the new procedures for road blocks during a bushfire.

After Jones’ Ridge the buses took the group to Nelson where, at the Isle of Bags, Mick Bawden spoke about what the township has done to reduce fire risk. At Dr Moore’s block Max Lomas spoke about the fuel reduction burns being conducted on private property.

Daniel Depeller from Parks Victoria gave an insight on the work being done in the park land to reduce fire risk between the park land and the town.

The day concluded at Nelson Fire Station with afternoon tea and some closing remarks from CFA Operations Manager Peter Novotny. It is planned to run a conference like this each year to build on interoperability across the shire.

The latest news from the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting this summer will be one of the worst fire seasons for 30 years, with a quite strong El Niño influencing weather conditions. There has been a lot of preparation by all agencies leading up to this summer which continues throughout the year with training, getting new gear and equipment and IMT exercises.

We never stop.

Author: Dale Harker