Firefighting authorities working together on planned burns

Posted June 29th, 2018 by admin and filed in 老域名
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CFA volunters from Sassafras, Selby and Dixons Creek take part in an exercise near Plenty Gorge.CFA volunteers will increasingly join fire crews from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries to conduct planned burns across Victoria, under a new partnership to be announced on Monday.

Under the partnership, which follows a pilot program involving more than 30 burns on public land over the past two years, the fire agencies will work together conducting burns on public land and private land.

Bushfire Response Minister Kim Wells said the new arrangement would cut the risk of bushfires across the state, as well as significantly improve co-ordination between the two firefighting authorities.

Historically, planned burns in Victoria on public land have been conducted by  DEPI crews, with only a limited involvement across Victoria from local CFA brigades. Mr Wells told Fairfax Media that while department crews conducted such burns, “at the same time, there were lots and lots of CFA trucks sitting in sheds, with [the department] trying to do everything”.

Mr Wells said that the new arrangements would give CFA crews a say in nominating which burns were prioritised, and that they could “actually take ownership of some of the planned burns”. He acknowledged that in some places, such as East Gippsland, CFA members had expressed frustration that some parts of the bush had not recently been treated by fuel reduction burning.

“The significant benefit of this will be of course that the relationship between the CFA and [the department] will be a lot closer, if they’re able to do planned burning in the cool seasons. Firstly, the personnel will get to know each other. They will get an understanding of what equipment each agency has, and there’s obviously the issue of communications – which they’ll work on,” he said.

“Strengthening CFA’s partnership with [the department] will provide firefighters with invaluable on-the-ground experience, and training and mentoring from experienced firefighters in a controlled, but real-life environment,” he said.

Asked whether the partnership was about saving money, Mr Wells strongly denied this: “Absolutely not. This is about improving the working relationship between CFA and [the department]. It’s about better use of equipment by both agencies, it’s about the ability to be able to train new CFA volunteers in real, live situations and for me it’s also about the ownership of planned burning around country towns.”

Chief Officer of the CFA, Euan Ferguson, said the trial had been a success. “We’ve had a fantastic reaction from both the [the department] and CFA brigades. I think through the trial we’ve realised that there is an untapped capability within CFA and many brigades are wanting to undertake more burning on public land. The other thing is that because we work together an awful lot, the process of both planning and conducting planned burns, it improves the relationships, it builds forest firefighting skills in the CFA members … it adds to the inter-operability between CFA and [the department], ” he said.

To illustrate the increase in joint operations between the fire agencies, Mr Ferguson said that in 2011-12 CFA crews were involved in 326 planned burns across Victoria over 3960 hectares. In 2012-13 this jumped to 763 planned burns and 5255 hectares. In addition, far more CFA brigades became involved in the burns.

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, conducted after the devastating Black Saturday bushfires, which claimed 173 lives, urged the state to significantly increase the amount of planned burning done across Victoria via an annual rolling target of at least 5 per cent of the state’s public land.

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