Rehabilitation work continues long after the fires are out

CFA works alongside its emergency services colleagues each year to undertake extensive rehabilitation work long after the summer bushfire season.


This year the Hume region was faced with a mammoth task of recovery. Communities of the Ovens and Upper Murray Valleys are still in the early stages of recovery since the bushfires season.

Most of the damage to private property occurred in the Upper Murray with significant building, livestock, fodder and fencing losses.

Many families in the Towong Shire lost everything and are still making arrangements to rebuild.

Fires in the Ovens and Upper Murray Valleys left huge losses in private pine forests which will take decades to recover.

Control line construction undertaken on private property at both fires was a decision made by each Incident Management Team (IMT) to make the best possible endeavours to protect life and property.

But these control lines can often leave damaging effects to both public and private land.

The Hume Region IMT decided to divide the rehabilitation of fence and suppression damage into two, with Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) being responsible for the public/private boundary issues and CFA being responsible for private land.

CFA appointed a project manager and a small team of five began work on 3 February 2020.

From 11 February, to 24 March, CFA ground crews visited and assessed control line, fencing and other damage (for example domestic drainage lines bulldozed, dozer, gates and gate posts knocked over) in both fire areas.

The first ground crews were deployed on 10 February with the last crew being withdrawn on 21 March due to CFA's COVID-19 arrangements.

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, over 99 per cent of the property assessments and work in the Upper Murray had been completed by June 2020.

All the assessment and rehabilitation work done on the 23 properties in Ovens was completed by 28 Feb.

Claims can be still made up to 12 months after the fire, however currently the total (to date) recovery claims is 23 landholders for the Ovens fire and 281 for the Upper Murray fire.

The present total is 304 landholders and the distance of rehabilitated control line is approximately 400 kilometres.

All work that has been discovered or reported has now been effectively rehabilitated.

North East Region Vegetation Management Officer Phil Browne said both teams have received considerable very positive feedback.

“We have received great feedback from the public, not only about the work but the way landholders and their family members were approached by team members from both organisations.

“We all see our role as a positive contribution to people’s recovery from these fires. Although there is a lot more work to be done to help these people, it’s about giving them that initial help and support.

“The work we all do continues long after the fires are out.” 

Author: Holly Penketh