Shelley Burn Camp a great success

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The Shelley Burn Camp in north-east Victoria is unique because it occurs in one of the highest locations in the state, and because it’s a collaborative training exercise between CFA and Hancock Victorian Plantations (HVP).


The Shelley area is home to extensive pine plantations managed by HVP. There are about 17,500 hectares of continuous plantations, including about 5,000 hectares of native bush reserved for conservation. With such a large area, it’s critically important that any fire-related training (including mitigation and prevention activities), occurs collaboratively between HVP and CFA.

Starting in 2014, the Shelley Burn Camp is organised by the North East Region Vegetation Management team in partnership with HVP. Following a break over the COVID-19 period, the camp reactivated this year and has proved a great success.

With more than 40 participants from HVP, CFA volunteers and staff, and one NSW Rural Fire Service member, the three-day burn camp provided excellent opportunities for hands-on learning by burning, and a positive exchange of ideas between all participants.

Five sites were burnt over the three days, with a total of 25 hectares of fuel reduction burning achieved.

 It was a fantastic opportunity for our forestry industry brigade members to work alongside the CFA as equals,” HVP North East Plantations Manager Nikki Armstrong said.

“It provides opportunities for HVP to showcase our skills and understanding of the plantation and share our knowledge. Shelley Burn Camp is not only a stunning backdrop, but allows us, in a very controlled environment, to observe fire behaviour firsthand. Participants can step back and look at the effects of weather, fuel and topography in real time with no pressure or urgency to suppress.”

The HVP Plantations field crew (Andrew Centre, Shane Riley, Tristan Boar and Kayla Nichol) thought the burn camp was a fantastic opportunity for a variety of firefighting agencies to come together and share knowledge and experience while working in a team environment.

“Representing HVP, we felt very honoured to be invited and welcomed by everyone. The mentors have a wealth of knowledge and were more than willing to share it,” the team said.

Likewise, CFA volunteers also appreciated the opportunity provided by the burn camp.

“The burn camp was a great time to learn and test yourself with others who want to do the same thing," Bethanga Fire Brigade volunteer Sean Farrar said. “Yes, you learn about the planned burning process, including the preparation, execution and follow-up. But it’s also great to be able to test yourself in situations where there's no fear of failing so that you can learn from mistakes.

“It was a great opportunity to build teamwork with members from other brigades and districts who you don't know and work towards a common goal.”

“What an amazing learning opportunity and experience Shelley Burn Camp was,” Chirnside Park Fire Brigade volunteer Angela Fleay said. “I was grateful for the opportunity to attend.”

Planning has already begun to make next year’s Shelley Burn Camp even better!


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Submitted by Andrew Govanstone