Emer­gency ser­vices prep for fire sea­son

Alpine Observer - - News - By JUSTIN JEN­VEY

VIC­TO­RIAN gov­ern­ment and emer­gency ser­vice agen­cies have come to­gether to pre­pare for a worst-case sce­nario bushfire.

Last Tues­day about 65 staff from For­est Fire Man­age­ment Vic­to­ria, Coun­try Fire Au­thor­ity, Parks Vic­to­ria, Vic­to­ria Po­lice, Hancock Vic­to­rian Plan­ta­tions, State Emer­gency Ser­vice and Alpine Shire Coun­cil took part in a train­ing day at Ovens’ In­ci­dent Con­trol Cen­tre be­twen Myrtle­ford and Pore­punkah.

A mock bushfire sce­nario was played out with hy­po­thet­i­cal fires ig­nited by five sep­a­rate light­ning strikes.

FFMV in­ci­dent con­troller Leith McKen­zie said the pur­pose of the ex­er­cise was to en­sure key per­son­nel were pre­pared ahead of the next ‘level three’ in­ci­dent.

“Agency staff felt they needed a re­fresher, hav­ing not ac­tu­ally run this of­fice as an in­ci­dent con­trol cen­tre in more than four years,” he said.

“The aim of the day was to run through skills and qual­i­fi­ca­tions and to keep peo­ple up to date with all the new roles and pro­ce­dures that have been en­acted through Emer­gency Man­age­ment Vic­to­ria since the 2009 and 2013 bush­fires.”

The last time the fa­cil­ity was used to co-or­di­nate a bushfire re­sponse was in 2013 when the Har­ri­etville fire burned 37,000 hectares of state for­est.

Mr McKen­zie said it was im­por­tant for dif­fer­ent per­son­nel to work to­gether to fa­mil­iarise them­selves with the peo­ple they would be deal­ing with dur­ing a ma­jor bushfire.

“We all work sep­a­rately and in dif­fer­ent jobs so it’s good for ev­ery­one to get used to the peo­ple they will likely be work­ing with when a fire starts,” he said.

“This means they can not only fa­mil­iarise them­selves with the peo­ple but the pro­cesses and make sure they’re fa­mil­iar with the lay­out of the of­fice, too.

“Co-or­di­nat­ing some­thing like this is a huge ef­fort where ev­ery­one has a role to play.

“Fire­fight­ers on the ground fight­ing the blaze need to be sup­ported by the in­ci­dent con­trollers, work­ing out the lo­gis­tics of the fire at­tack, what re­sources are needed while ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cat­ing with me­dia and the pub­lic.”

De­spite the Ovens Val­ley re­main­ing quite green, with sum­mer ap­proach­ing ex­perts ex­pect the fire dan­ger pe­riod to be­gin later this month.

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