Today CFA is releasing its incident response data from October to December of 2019, a period in which Victorian firefighters also supported other states fighting some of the worst bushfires in Australian history.
Across this incredibly busy and demanding period, CFA brigades responded to 13,256 incidents (up from 11,906 incidents during the same quarter the year before), more than half of which (7,016) required an emergency response (up from 6297).
Quarter Two data showed that overall the community received a fire service within the standard response time in 87 per cent of emergencies, which was broadly consistent with previous quarters.
CFA Chief Officer and CEO Steve Warrington this was a great result, especially given that in the same period, thousands of CFA members contributed their time to join strike teams to fight campaign bushfires in other parts of the state and interstate.
“This means our firefighters upheld an amazing service to their own communities while also helping fight some of the most devastating bushfires that Australia has seen for a long time in communities far away from their own homes,” he said.
The quarter saw the start of an unprecedented bushfire season that lasted well into the following quarter. Several large fires that burnt for months broke out on 21 November – the first Code Red day Victoria had had in almost 10 years – when a lightning storm moved across Victoria. By 31 December, more than 500,000 hectares of land burnt in Victoria. By the end of March, that figure was more than 1.5 million hectares.
In Victoria, the bushfires devastated much of East Gippsland, including Mallacoota, where thousands of residents and tourists huddled on the beach while the fire front passed over the New Year’s period. They also impacted large parts of Victoria’s North East, including Corryong.
“More than 400 houses were lost in Victoria this fire season, but many were saved when our firefighters bunkered down with the communities, in several instances becoming cut off from the rest of Victoria when roads closed following the fires,” Mr Warrington said.
Mr Warrington said the incident response data highlighted the hard work of CFA members across all types of emergencies, whether bushfires, house fires, road accidents or emergency medical response.
“A lot of focus this year has been on that incredible bushfire season, but it’s really important that we now remember that residential fires can be just as deadly and devastating to our community – especially as we are all spending more time at home due to coronavirus restrictions,” he said.
One person died in a house fire during the quarter, down from four the same quarter last year.
“While this number is a significant reduction, it’s still a life that has been cut tragically short and a person that is being missed by their family, friends and community,” Mr Warrington said.
“It’s a stark reminder that we must keep working hard to save lives and property, especially as we go into the winter period, where the risk of house fires is statistically higher.
“Community members can do their part by installing smoke alarms in all bedrooms and living areas and checking them regularly to make sure that they are working,” he said.
For all CFA brigades, the Community Service Delivery Standard compliance rate was 87 per cent.
- CFA and other fire services responded to 88 per cent of fires in significant urban areas within the standard response time of 8 minutes
- CFA and other fire services responded to 86 per cent of fires in all other urban areas within the standard response time of 10 minutes
- CFA and other fire services responded to 97 per cent of fires in areas with predominantly natural surroundings within the standard response time of 20 minutes.
Response data is reported by Hazard Class, which defines the risk type for a given area. Each brigade area may contain multiple Hazard Classes. Each Hazard Class has a Service Delivery Standard, a predefined response time target for brigades attending emergency events.