Update from Trevor Owen, Assistant Chief Officer, South East Region

If all indicators are correct, this year’s fire season will start early. It’s important that we focus on preparing ourselves and the communities we serve now for what could be a long bushfire season.


Earlier this month the Chief Officer delivered his summer season briefing. Given our low rainfall and dry conditions, it is likely to be an early start to a long bushfire season for susceptible areas right across the state.

The drier weather means we’ve already seen grass and scrub fires take hold in South East Gippsland, started by campfires that weren’t extinguished properly and out of control burn-offs. Our colleagues from Forest Fire Management Victoria and across the border in NSW have also been fighting bushfires since mid-August. In the broader Gippsland region we’re preparing now for campaign fires and have brought the fire danger period forward to 10 September for Districts 10 and 11 in readiness.

We can’t be complacent. We need to be alert and prepared to safely protect the community and each other, particularly as there is increased potential for conditions such as storm activity to provide ready sources of ignition. The great news is that there is a lot we can do in addition to the required pre-season drills to be ready and prepared.

Be proactive and visible in your communities. Encourage community members to help their neighbours get their homes fire ready. Hold a community meeting and encourage people to complete a bush fire survival plan, or door knock homes at high risk to ensure all residents are prepared for the threat of fire. Utilise platforms such as Facebook to target your followers with a range of advice and materials.

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Our trucks are mobile advertising for our messages. Stop a truck in the main street and be ready to convey preparedness messages to members of the community. Grab a coffee at your local café and chat with fellow patrons. Let’s start having the conversations now.

Most importantly, prepare yourself. How’s your health and fitness? Your wellbeing? Do you have an overnight bag packed ready to go? Think about what you might need now should you be called to a sustained fire event, and get it ready just in case. Your life, the lives of your fellow brigade members, and those of community members depend on you being able to work under extreme conditions. Look after yourself so you can look after others.

CFA’s fire managers and fire behaviour analysts will be closely monitoring the conditions over the coming months. Forecasting seasonal activity this early means things may change but for now focus on preparing yourself and your community for what may be a long season ahead. This is something we do best - at CFA we prepare, we’re committed and we protect lives and property.  

Author: Trevor Owen