Wellington CFA members holidaying in Mallacoota may not be expecting to volunteer for the local brigade, but with 10,000 visitors in the town during peak season, a trial taking place this summer may help bolster efforts to fight fires in the future.

‘Vols on Hols’ is a pilot program that will be trialled this summer in an effort to have more boots on the ground in far east Gippsland.

Mallacoota was chosen as the trial site because the small and remote coastal destination significantly increases in population over summer with an influx of up to 10,000 visitors during peak season. It was also severely impacted during the 2019 and 2020 bushfires.

South East Region Deputy Chief Officer (DCO) Trevor Owen said many people return to the Mallacoota region with family and friends as an annual tradition at the same time every year, some spanning decades.

“CFA members are among the many visitors to Mallacoota each year and we are seeking their assistance while enjoying their stay,” DCO Owen said.

“Because of Mallacoota’s isolation and the increased risk over the summer period, we’re interested in CFA volunteers who can respond supporting members of the Mallacoota Fire Brigade. We completely understand that volunteers are on holidays to spend valuable time with their families, fishing, boating or other recreational activities, but we also know some members may be willing and able to assist in the event of emergency.

“The nature of our members is they want to help if they can and Mallacoota Fire Brigade would appreciate the extra hands during this busy part of the year.”

The pilot program is for operational responders and members who have skills in community education and engagement. Interested members are requested to provide an Expression of Interest. The application is then reviewed, and the member is sent a welcome letter and contacted by the Brigade Captain who will inform the next steps to introduce and induct the visiting member into the brigade.

Mallacoota Captain Tracey Johnston said she welcomed the pilot program in Mallacoota to bolster the available resources of the Brigade.

“We’d love to have more volunteers and welcome them with open arms, but you don’t have to turn up every time the pager goes off,” Captain Johnston said.

“We know that visiting CFA members want to help during an emergency and we welcome their skills to assist when they are available. The more hands, the better result all round.”

For more information go to volsonhols.d11@cfa.vic.gov.au or call D11 Headquarters on 03 5153 7400.