Remembering the 2009 fires 15 years on

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Saturday 7 February 2009 changed our state and the lives of thousands of people forever.  


A message from CEO Natalie MacDonald and Chief Officer Jason Heffernan

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the 2009 bushfires. 

Saturday 7 February 2009 changed our state and the lives of thousands of people forever.  

It is a day etched in the memories of our members and those who fought the fires alongside them. Together they stood bravely against unimaginable conditions, risking their lives to save others during that terrible summer.  

Despite the passing years, the events of 2009 are still deeply painful. The 2009 fires, and more recently the 2019-20 fires, reminded us just how devastating and unpredictable bushfires can be. The fires also showed the critical role CFA members play in our communities; how we are there for all of Victoria on the darkest of days. 

The fires claimed the lives of 173 people, injuring more than 400 others. More than 2,000 homes were destroyed, 450,000 hectares of land were burnt, and an estimated one million animals and wildlife perished.  

Tragically, CFA lost one of its own during these fires. Arthurs Creek volunteer firefighter Joe Shepherd died on 22 February as a result of injuries sustained while fighting the fires. ACT firefighter David Balfour also died tragically while assisting emergency services during the fires. 

Today we honour their memory and the memory of all the lives lost.  

From the tragic events of the 2009 fires came a determination to ensure we keep learning and evolving. Important reforms were made to safety procedures, emergency, planning, preparedness and coordination, communications, bushfire research, and wellbeing and support. We continue to learn and improve with every fire and incident so that we can make sure CFA members return home safely every time.  

We will never forget 2009 and the incredible acts of bravery and resolve shown by the more than 19,000 CFA volunteers and staff involved in the efforts to contain and manage the fires. 

Today you may feel like you need additional support as the anniversary of the 2009 fires and other significant events like it often bring up difficult memories.

We remind CFA members that there are a range of wellbeing support services available to you and your family if you need support or someone to talk to.  

Natalie and Jason


Submitted by CEO Natalie MacDonald and Chief Officer Jason Heffernan