Boost for firefighters
Firefighter access to some of the region’s most fire-prone areas of public land is being improved through the state government’s $272 million Reducing Bushfire Risk program.
The four-year initiative will further reduce the risk of bushfires to the Benalla community and the environment by upgrading fire towers, building new bridges and improving the condition of key forest roads.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Hume Region, Jarrod Hayse, said the works would support the early detection of bushfires and rapid response of firefighters and heavy machinery.
‘‘Timing is everything when it comes to responding to bushfires, particularly in remote forest areas,’’ Mr Hayse said.
‘‘Through early detection, and the ability to get firefighters and machinery on site as quickly as possible, we greatly improve the chance of controlling fires before they spread and impact communities and the environment.
‘‘Across the region we have completed $5.7 million of works in the first year of the program to improve the condition of critical forest access roads.
‘‘Better roads, with less hazardous roadside trees gives firefighters safer access when responding to bushfires, while also pro- viding the community with safer evacuation routes if required during an emergency.
‘‘Additional works are planned in the lead-up to summer, with a further $5.7 million to be spent on road and bridge upgrades across the region throughout the next year.
‘‘This program complements our planned burning, slashing, and mulching works, and collectively helps reduce the impact of bushfires on communities and the environment.’’
Mr Hayse said the works would also improve access to some of the region’s favourite recreational reserves and tourist destinations, which is an added benefit for the local tourism industry.
‘‘Some roads will be temporarily closed, but we will work with contractors and the local community to ensure the safety of forest users and visitors, and to reduce disruption as much as possible.
‘‘Most of the contractors working on the upgrades are locals, which is a key priority for us under the program.’’
For more information about the Reducing Bushfire Risk program, phone 136 186 or visit www.ffmvic.gov.au
Fast response: The CFA were quick to extinguish a fire on the Hume Fwy this week. Picture: Matthew Hooker