Emergency services personnel are coming together over the next four weeks to prepare for this year’s upcoming high-risk season through multi-agency briefings in several locations across Loddon Mallee.
Senior Victorian operational personnel will join regional and local emergency management personnel for briefings on the localised bushfire and flood and storm 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 Loddon Mallee region, starting at Mildura Incident Control Centre (ICC) on Thursday, 6 October and concluding on Tuesday, 25 October in Bendigo.
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 preparedness 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 Deputy Chief Officer North West Gavin Thompson said the Loddon Mallee is experiencing the ongoing effects of La Niña weather patterns, having received high levels of rain across the region in recent months which will lead to healthy crops and increased fuel loads.
“We know fuel loads dry out quickly at the northern end of the region, so we are prepared for a grassfire-dominated start to the fire season across the Loddon Mallee.”
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,” he said.
“We’re also asking communities to start conversations with your family and household to discuss your options in the event of a storm or flood event.
“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.”
Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) Loddon Mallee Acting Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Carsten Nannestad said the pre-season briefings were an important opportunity for our region’s emergency services organisations to share knowledge ahead of the fire season.
“Conditions across the region are still wet right now but as the weather warms in the coming months, there will be more dry, flammable vegetation,” Acting Deputy Chief Nannestad said.
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 Loddon Mallee:
- Thursday, 6 October: Loddon Mallee – Mildura ICC, Irymple
- Thursday, 13 October: Loddon Mallee – Epsom ICC, Epsom
- Wednesday, 19 October: Loddon Mallee – Gisborne ICC, Gisborne
- Tuesday, 25 October: Loddon Mallee – Bendigo