Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) has added to its workforce and rapid response capability ahead of the upcoming bushfire season.

Last Friday, Minister for the Environment Steve Dimopoulos announced the state government was investing $21.7 million to create 100 ongoing and 54 fixed-term forest fire operations officer positions, adding to the 550 seasonal firefighters recruited to work with FFMVic this season.

“Living with a changing climate means bushfires are occurring more often and are more intense – that’s why we are investing in our forest firefighters who are at the frontline of protecting our communities and environment.

“It has been a pleasure meeting with some of our forest firefighters and learning more about the special skills and equipment that they use to reduce bushfire risk and respond to fires,” he said.

The extra resource means more boots on the ground to respond and reduce the risk of bushfires to communities through planned burns, mechanical fuel treatments and maintenance of the strategic fuel break network.

The recent firefighter recruitment builds an 1800-strong force of FFMVic personnel on the frontline. Alongside other partner agencies, departments and volunteers, Victoria will have more than 62,800 people in fire and emergency roles for this upcoming bushfire season.

The workforce prepares and responds to bushfires all year round.

Between July 1 and September 30 this year, FFMVic firefighters responded to 142 fires – just below the 10-year average during the same period.

FFMVic also supports a range of emergency response activities, including Victoria’s recent floods and deployment to Canada to combat wildfires.

“Victoria will always have bushfires, but we can assure communities that when a bushfire starts, FFMVic is ready to respond – we work every day to reduce bushfire risk to communities,” FFMVic Chief Fire Officer, Chris Hardman said.

Victorians are encouraged to do their part to stay safe this bushfire season by preparing their properties, making a Bushfire Plan and staying up to date on emergency information and warnings.

For more information, visit emergency.vic.gov.au/prepare