East Gippsland fire report released

A REPORT on this year’s east Gippsland fires has been released.

The fire season compliance report, by Inspector-General for Emergency Management Tony Pearce, was released last week by Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Minister Kim Wells.

Mr Wells will return to east Gippsland later this month to discuss the findings and recommendations with communities in Bonang, Goongerah-Deddick, Lindenow and surrounding areas.

The report examines the implementation of actions relating to issues from 2013-14 fire season, and specifically the east Gippsland fires.

Mr Wells said it was about ensuring that community concerns had been addressed and reforms to the emergency management sector were identified and implemented.

He said the inspector-general’s report highlighted the considerable progress on actions relating to improving road traffic management, increasing community involvement in fire preparedness, response and recovery, initial attack and utilisation of resources and cross-border fire arrangements.

It found that of 86 actions proposed, only seven were yet to begin.

Mr Pearce will monitor the implementation of the remaining actions throughout the coming fire season.

Mr Wells said with weather forecasts indicating hot and dry conditions this summer, it was crucial that the recommendations identified in the report were implemented in full.

Mr Wells welcomed the recent state government announcement to boost emergency response capabilities in the Latrobe Valley, providing $588,000 in additional funding for a specialist firebombing helicopter to be based in the region this summer.

“Specialist aviation resources based in the Latrobe Valley will ensure rapid response to incidents across the whole Gippsland region and boost community safety for local residents,” he said.

“We also announced $6.56 million for two large fixed wing air tankers, which are the largest ever to be used in Australia, with a carrying capacity of approximately 12,000 and 17,000 litres.

“These aircraft will ensure there will be a stronger and quicker initial attack on fires anywhere in the state this summer, which means local communities will be better protected.”

The IGEM report is available at www.igem.vic.gov.au