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Bushfire season underway in Victoria

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January 15, 2019 by admin

The Victorian bushfire season officially begins this week, amid warnings the state faces worse conditions than earlier this year.

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Premier John Brumby has urged Victorians in fire-prone areas to keep clearing debris from their properties to make their homes as fireproof as possible.

“The thing about fire preparation is it’s not just done in one day or one week, this is something that people have got to work on right up to Christmas and right through January,” he said.

Mr Brumby says Victorians face a hotter and more dangerous summer than they encountered last summer.

“The start of the fire season is a call to action for all Victorians to be prepared and to be on alert,” he said.

“Fire experts predict that this season could bring conditions every bit as bad, if not worse, than the season we’ve just experienced.”

Meanwhile the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires has heard the state’s police have been re-trained in the fundamentals of emergency management.

SBS Reporter Rachel Baker reports the state’s top police officer says he’s discovered that there was confusion among members of his force.

“What is command, what is control and what is co-ordination? And as I said in my introduction, unless you have that straight, everything that flows from there very quickly becomes confused and confusing”, says Police Chief Simon Overland.

Officers have already received two-day refresher courses on the meaning of the terms.

This season about 30 commercial radio stations across Victoria have joined the ABC and Sky Television as official broadcasters of bushfire and other emergency warnings.

Mr Brumby said this means that warnings will not only go out across country Victoria but it will also reach a new and younger audience who are not necessarily tuned to the ABC.

“Everywhere in Victoria is a fire risk this season and I urge all Victorians, if you have not done so already, to identify your fire risk, prepare a Bushfire Survival Plan and get involved in community fire preparation activities,” he said.

A new “catastrophic” warning was added to a new national fire code to be used Australia-wide.

Under the new six-stage rating system, fire danger starts at low to moderate and runs through to severe and extreme with the highest code red warning being catastrophic.

Victorian government schools and children’s services in high-risk bushfire areas will close on days declared a catastrophic Code Red fire danger rating.

Of the 52 towns and communities designated as being most at risk, more than 30 are in the Otway, Dandenong and Macedon Ranges.

Concern is mounting over the townships on the fringes of the densely-forested Otways which include popular holiday resorts such as Torquay, Lorne and Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road.

On February 16, 1983, the day of the Ash Wednesday fires that tore through the Otways, 75 people died in that region and neighbouring South Australia.

The Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires has heard Victorian police have been re-trained in the fundamentals of emergency management.

The Police Chief Commissioner also says communication will always be a difficult area – and that he expects to receive wrong information in future disasters.


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