Victorians urged to be ready for fire season

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bushfiresEmergency authorities are warning Victorians to prepare themselves for a significant bushfire season.

Recent rains have fuelled substantial grass growth, which will increase the likelihood of fire once temperature rises.

At the launch of Fire Action Week on Monday, emergency management commissioner Craig Lapsley said the risk of fire is expected to be highest in January and February.

“The key issue for Victoria is central and western Victoria, where the grasslands meet the bush and where the grasslands meet communities,” he said.

“One of the key things this year is to do your practical work. Cut the grass but be prepared to do it again, because the regrowth could be significant. So, do the work in late October/early November, but be prepared to revisit it to make sure you are ready for our summer.”

Fire Action Week was launched as a community awareness initiative following the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

Many Uniting Church communities in Victoria were impacted by the bushfires, which ripped through several regional towns across the state.

One of the regions worst hit was Kinglake. The Kinglake West Uniting Church was the only church left standing in the entire town.

Synod members and staff lost friends, livestock and properties in the bushfires and the Baynton Uniting Church was completely destroyed.

The bushfires resulted in tragic loss of life, but also catalysed many congregations into action.

Many churches were at the forefront of the recovery effort, giving their time, money and friendship to those affected by the fires. The Kinglake West Uniting Church became a central hub for food delivery, government services and internet access. The congregation also offered the church as a community restaurant, feeding up to 200 people every night.

Uniting Church members responded generously to the national Bushfire Appeal, raising more than $2 million to assist affected communities. UnitingCare agencies throughout the state provided emergency relief, counselling and assistance for long-term recovery and rebuilding.

The CFA (Country Fire Authority) has compiled a list of tips on how to prepare for the upcoming fire season:

  • Check the fire risk where you live using this interactive diagram.
  • Download the FireReady/VicEmergency app to your mobile device.
  • Check the Fire Danger Ratings
  • Familiarise yourself with the three levels of warnings and what they mean.
  • Pack an emergency kit of essentials. This should include important documents, medications, a mobile phone, torch, battery operated radio, money and clothes so you can leave easily before a fire starts.
  • Talk to your household and neighbours about how you’ll know when to leave and where to go to stay safe.
  • Do you have family, friends or neighbours who need help preparing to leave early? Talk to them about when they’re going to leave, where they’re going to go, and how you can help.
  • Be prepared for power failure in extreme weather conditions by reading the Power Outage Guide.

Image: Sacha Grant/Flickr

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