Fuel-re­duc­tion plan to meet threat

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Land man­agers are gear­ing up to start a spring planned-burn­ing pro­gram across the Wim­mera in re­sponse to the threat of an ap­proach­ing bushfire sea­son.

For­est Fire Man­age­ment Victoria is busy pre­par­ing the pro­gram in an ef­fort to re­duce the im­pact of bushfires.

For­est Fire Man­age­ment Victoria dis­trict manager Glenn Ru­dolph said con­trolled burns, in re­duc­ing the amount of fuel in the land­scape, were de­signed to re­duce the in­ten­sity of bushfires.

“It makes it more likely that fire­fight­ers can con­tain bushfires be­fore they spread and im­pact on peo­ple, prop­erty and the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

“We take a whole-of-sys­tem ap­proach to fuel re­duc­tion that builds on our man­age­ment of threat­ened and vul­ner­a­ble species.

“It in­volves the de­vel­op­ment of eco­log­i­cal models and mea­sures of ecosys­tem re­silience un­der dif­fer­ent fire regimes.”

Mr Ru­dolph said fuel-re­duc­tion work in­volved planned burns, slash­ing and mow­ing and cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing fuel breaks.

“Th­ese tech­niques are ap­plied to pre­de­ter­mined ar­eas un­der spe­cific en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions to achieve a de­sired out­come,” he said.

“We ex­pect some op­por­tu­ni­ties to be­come avail­able in the Wim­mera within the next week as we head into spring, with milder weather al­low­ing us to tar­get ar­eas that are too wet in win­ter, and be­fore things get too hot and dry as we head into sum­mer.”

Mr Ru­dolph said For­est Fire Man­age­ment Victoria, in part­ner­ship with other land-man­age­ment and emer­gency-ser­vice agen­cies, was aim­ing to com­plete sev­eral im­por­tant planned burns across the Wim­mera this sea­son, in­clud­ing within the Grampians and Lit­tle Desert na­tional parks, and around key cen­tres such as Stawell and Ararat.

“When planned burns are un­der­taken, com­mu­ni­ties might see and smell smoke, and some roads and for­est ar­eas might have to be closed for pub­lic safety,” he said.

“There are only limited op­por­tu­ni­ties where con­di­tions are suit­able to un­der­take th­ese im­por­tant burns, so it is vi­tal that we take ad­van­tage of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity avail­able to com­plete them.

“Th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties might oc­cur dur­ing the school hol­i­days, pub­lic hol­i­days and over week­ends.”

Mr Ru­dolph said peo­ple could find out lat­est in­for­ma­tion about when planned burns are hap­pen­ing by vis­it­ing web­site ffm.vic.gov.au/planned burn, down­load­ing a Vicemer­gency app or by call­ing a Vicemer­gency hotline –1800 226 226.

He said call­ers who were deaf, hard of hear­ing or had a speech-com­mu­ni­ca­tion im­pair­ment could con­tact the Vicemer­gency Hotline via a Na­tional Re­lay Ser­vice on 1800 555 677.

The burn­ing pro­gram comes af­ter govern­ment con­fir­ma­tion that a fleet of 50 air­craft will help fight fires this sum­mer.

The State Govern­ment an­nounced the air­craft fleet would in­clude a mix of wa­ter-bomb­ing air­craft, air-su­per­vi­sion and in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing air­craft.

The fleet in­cludes two air tankers, which can carry up to 15,000 litres of wa­ter, foam or re­tar­dant, and two 7500-litre air­cranes, which pro­vide es­sen­tial sup­port to other air­craft across the state.

It also in­cludes spe­cial­ist night-time air­craft, which can be in­volved in fire­bomb­ing and in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions af­ter dark, when con­di­tions are suit­able.

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