Some words that stand out for me over the past seven weeks: safety, community, leadership, teamwork, mateship, resilience, courage, commitment and perseverance.
Working as one team continues to be a real strength of CFA in the firefighting effort in East Gippsland.
Our people have been working exceptionally hard together with our emergency services partners, and I’m really proud of how everyone has pulled together during some very difficult times.
Our people in East Gippsland have been going now since early November when our first Strike Teams headed across the border to support their colleagues in NSW. Our own firefight began on 21 November.
The time since has been a rollercoaster of emotions for our people and the courageous communities they support.
Never before has East Gippsland had more than one million hectares of fire impacting the landscape of so many communities within one season.
I thank all the brigades across Victoria that have sent resources to support local firefighting efforts.
While there has been substantial impact, I know that the losses would have been much worse had it not been for the combined effort of community and emergency services working together.
Our preplanning has also been vital. CFA operational township protection and local response plans have been of great benefit. We have done some fantastic township protection planning work, identifying key community infrastructure for protection works, and preparing documentation for incoming strike teams.
Hitting fires hard and fast continues to be a very successful strategy in reducing the impact. Having that additional capability has been incredibly valuable in protecting communities, especially in the middle of the night when bushfires have unexpectedly run.
This strategic positioning of additional capability has no doubt saved lives and property and continues to so, particularly in remote communities.
Unfortunately we received less than 5mm of rainfall across the board on the back of yesterday’s storm front so it had minimal impact on our fire suppression activity, and we expect that we will continue to have active bushfires on our door step for the next few weeks.
But in time the fire risk will ease, and we will work together again with the communities in East Gippsland to support the region and its people to recover.
Again, I say thank you to every member who has supported the firefight in East Gippsland.
Let’s continue to support one another and work together as a solid team protecting community until we extinguish the last flames.