In this issue:                                                                     January, 2014

Community Fire Refuges
Black Saturday Bushfires – five years on
Summer power outages campaign
Inquiry into Disaster Funding
SES Community Emergency Risk Assessment update
Reminder to utilise VicEmergency
DEPI’s Water Enhancer Evaluation project
Tsunami: The Ultimate Guide


Community Fire Refuges

In December 2013 three pilot Community Fire Refuges (CFRs) were officially endorsed by the Fire Services Commissioner (FSC) as fit for use and designated by local government in municipal emergency management plans, as required by legislation.

The pilot seeks to address one of the recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. Two refuges are located in the Yarra Ranges Council at primary schools in Ferny Creek and East Warburton and one is located in Moorabool Shire at the Blackwood CFA station.

The MAV worked closely with the two councils involved in the pilot as well as State Government agencies to ensure the pilot process, which began in earnest in 2011, was implemented effectively and respected each council’s role, capability and capacity.

It should also be noted that both Yarra Ranges and Moorabool councils dedicated significant resources and effort into this project, from community engagement and communication to vegetation management and local planning.

At the conclusion of the pilot program in May 2014, an evaluation will be conducted to consider key aspects of the pilot program and provide a report to the FSC to assist with informing planning, policy and procedures for future CFRs.

Yarra Ranges Council, CFA and the FSC have also worked together to establish a Neighbourhood Safer Place – a place of last resort at the oval next to Millgrove Primary School for the 2013/14 fire season. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is currently undertaking a feasibility study to assist with determining the most suitable options available for establishing a CFR within the school site.

Read the November 2013 Community Fire Refuges Policy here.

Black Saturday Bushfires – five years on

In addition to a number of local commemoration events, Regional Development Victoria’s (RDV) Fire Recovery Unit will host an afternoon tea on Sunday 9 February to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2009 Black Saturday Victorian Bushfires.

The event will feature music by affected communities, as well as photo displays and activities for children.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP by 3 February.

Monash University’s Disaster Resilience Initiative (MUDRI) will start its 2014 MUDRI Forum series with a reflection on the five years since the bushfires.

The forum will consider how Victorian emergency management systems have changed as a result of the heatwave and fires. Although the forum will not address fire behaviour or management, it will discuss the research that contributes to policies and strategies for community resilience.

The MAV acknowledges the difficult recovery task faced by affected councils and their communities. While great progress has been made to date, for many people recovery is far from over and requires ongoing compassion, understanding and support.

Summer power outages campaign

The Department of State Development Business and Innovation has launched its summer campaign, Your Guide to Power Outages, to help people prepare for the Victorian bushfire season.

The campaign has been developed by the Powerline Bushfire Safety Program in advent of improving safety devices that may cause an increase of power outages during Total Fire Ban and Code Red days.

The guide has been designed to provide information encouraging people to prepare for power outages that occur during the bushfire season. The key messages remind people to consider the need for back-up power, especially if they are highly reliant on electricity, and to remember that power outages can affect many household items including phones, radios and water pumps.

Now in its third year, the campaign includes regional radio and print advertisements, a webpage and brochure.

Inquiry into Disaster Funding

The Federal Government is set to establish a Productivity Commission Inquiry into national disaster funding arrangements. The inquiry will examine the full scope of national expenditure on disasters and the effectiveness of current mitigation support arrangements.

The aim of the inquiry will be to determine the best ways to reduce the effect of natural disasters on communities and investigate how they can recover in a sustainable way.

The government has acknowledged that most existing disaster funding models were weighted towards response and recovery, with a focus on immediate humanitarian and economic relief and the restoration of infrastructure to its previous standard, instead of focusing on longer-term resilience.

The government says it will consult with states and territories on the terms of reference for the review.

SES Community Emergency Risk Assessment update

The Victorian SES has released an updated Community Emergency Risk Assessment (CERA) product available on the VICSES website.

New features of the CERA product include:

  • improved excel functionality
  • an updated version of the CERA manual
  • a CERA factsheet, including an overview of updated CERA approaches and features
  • updated criteria tables.

Additionally, a query and comments form is available to lodge a query and/or provide feedback on your experience with the updated CERA products.

The SES has thanked everyone for the valuable feedback provided and assistance as part of this continuous improvement process.

Reminder to utilise VicEmergency

VicEmergency is Victoria's primary website for emergency warnings for fire and flood. It is a single all-emergencies website that provides one source of information and advice to help people prepare, respond and recover from emergencies.

VicEmergency provides real-time emergency warnings and incidents on an interactive map of Victoria based on Google Maps. It also includes planning and recovery information and links.

As well as visiting VicEmergency for warnings this summer, you can also:

Remember to stay aware of the local conditions, always access more than one source of emergency warnings and do not wait to receive a warning before you act.

Call Triple Zero (000) when police, fire or ambulance attendance is needed in a life-threatening or time critical situation.

DEPI’s Water Enhancer Evaluation project

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has prepared an information sheet regarding a water enhancer evaluation project they are conducting.

The operational testing phase of the project started on Friday 24 January and will run for several months.  DEPI advise that, when conditions are acceptable, they will be using various water enhancer polymers to extend the suppression effect of water applied from aircrafts during bushfires and grass fires.

The geographic focus of these operational trials is within the Wimmera and South West CFA areas.

Contact Sasha Barrow for a copy of the information sheet or call DEPI on 0422 225 801.

Tsunami: The Ultimate Guide

Many Australians are unaware of the risk of tsunami. With 50 per cent of our population living within seven kilometres of the coast, and with these numbers swelling during summer and holiday months, the possibility of a serious tsunami emergency in the future is real.

To increase awareness about tsunami risk and preparedness, the Australian Tsunami Advisory Group has put together an interactive online guide.

The guide covers practical tsunami information using videos, animations and spectacular images. The resource takes you through tsunami basics, Australian tsunami impacts, warning systems, marine threat tsunami, land threat tsunami and how to prepare for a Tsunami.

The Victorian State Emergency Service is responsible for ensuring communities are prepared for and ready to respond to tsunamis. For more information, please visit the SES TsunamiSafe website.

Upcoming MAV events...

26-27 March

Smart Urban Futures

3 April

Local Laws: Identifying family violence

30 April & 1 May

MAV 2014 Environment Conference


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