Emergency services prep for fire season
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.