Boost for fire­fight­ers

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page -

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

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