Potentially major fire season

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley has urged residents to carry out fire prevention and preparedness measures before Christmas ahead of a potentially major bushfire season.

The warning comes after the Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2014-15 report upgraded Victoria’s summer forecast from a predicted above-average season on Thursday.

“The reason is the fact we haven’t had rain,” Mr Lapsley said.

“It’s dry in the Valley and some would say it’s weeks ahead of where it normally is and then you put that over the top of the climate forecast which says it’s going to be dry, hot and very long.

“We shouldn’t scare people, but we need to take it seriously.”

Mr Lapsley said fire and emergency services were well-prepared for the threat of grass and bushfires, with 17 multi-agency exercises held during September and October.

“We also have a record fleet of 46 aircraft providing fire water bombing and air intelligence capabilities and DEPI and Parks Victoria have taken every opportunity throughout spring to do planned burning,” he said.

“We have also seen CFA, local government and VicRoads undertake extensive vegetation management, including roadside burning.

“In addition to this we also have formalised arrangements for emergency accommodation and have seen many upgrades across our firefighting fleet.”

Mr Lapsley said a local taskforce of authorities and power station owners formed to help prevent a repeat of February’s Hazelwood mine fire crisis was meeting every fortnight and would report to the community in early December on its progress.

He encouraged people to download the FireReady app at emergency.vic.gov.au and get familiarised with up-to-date information sources including local radio stations, the CFA’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.