Message from Trevor Owen, Assistant Chief Officer South East Region
This is the third year in a row where fire restrictions have commenced earlier than usual in East Gippsland and our pre-season preparations are well underway.
Fire restrictions commenced in East Gippsland Shire on 23 September 2019 and will be followed by Wellington Shire on 28 October.
Traditionally East Gippsland Shire is one of the last municipalities to declare the fire danger period – but for the past three years it’s been amongst the first.
We’re currently working with our members and partner agencies to lock in the FDP dates for the remainder of municipalities in South East Region.
We have experienced three years of drought conditions in Eastern Gippsland, and our rural communities are doing it tough.
While we have had some welcome winter and spring rainfall in some parts of the region, the drought factor in the east is rising quickly.
The western half of our region is experiencing a more normal lead up to summer with significant grass growth. This is expected to develop into a significant grassfire risk from January to April.
Our pre-season activities are well and truly underway, alongside Forest Fire Management Victoria and other emergency service partners.
Safety continues to underpin everything we do and we are committed to ensure everyone comes home safe.
We’ve seen a great take up of the compulsory training in hazardous tree awareness and entrapment drill which are a must to keep our members safe on the fireground.
We’re in the final stages of completing our Level 3 Incident Management Team, Regional Control Team and Regional Emergency Management team pre-season briefing program.
Our After Action Review process from the last bushfire season also told us that we need to pay closer attention to the wellbeing and welfare of our members. This will be a key focus for all of our leaders.
We had a very busy bushfire season last year right across the South East Region.
Our Gippsland Regional Control Centre was operational for more than 100 continuous days. Managing fatigue became a critical factor to sustaining our effort last summer and will be even more so this bushfire season.
We are all hoping for a quieter bushfire season this year, but unfortunately the current conditions and the forecast seasonal prognosis are not in our favour with Gippsland once again highlighted as having an above average bushfire season.
While most of our significant fires start as a result of lightning strikes, the human element still plays a big role.
We will be working closely with FFMVic on educating our communities about the key drivers of fires in our region including campfire and BBQ safety. We will also continue our close relationship with Victoria Police reporting all suspicious fires.
Well done to all our staff and volunteer members who are working together to complete the pre-season preparations in South East Region and across the State.
The community is proud of CFA as an iconic fire service renowned for protecting Victorians from fire and other emergencies.
Look after yourself, your families and your fellow brigade members. Keep up the good work and stay safe.