Brumby gears up for bushfire season

By Staff Writer

The Victorian Government will put on 700 seasonal firefighters across the state ahead of the bushfire season with crews to be deployed from September, a month earlier than last year.

Six months since the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history, the Premier John Brumby said the Government would next week launch a recruitment campaign for DSE seasonal project firefighters, with 80 to start next month and increasing to 700 firefighters on the ground by the start of summer.

They will join over 2700 firefighters from the DSE and partner agencies and more than 59,000 CFA volunteers, including 1400 volunteers who have joined since the Black Saturday fires.

“Our Government’s top priority is to work with emergency service agencies and Victorian communities to prepare the state for the bushfire season ahead,” Mr Brumby said.

“The fire season is less than 100 days away and it’s vital that we are all ready. While the extreme weather conditions of Black Saturday were unprecedented, climate change, 13 years of drought and dry forest and grass conditions mean we could see similar conditions this fire season.

“That’s why we are taking action to put in place extra resources through a record $1 billion budget, improving communications systems and tendering selectively for a national early warning system so that it’s in place ahead of the bushfire season.”

Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Gavin Jennings said the DSE would call for applications from August 15 until September 6 with about 700 seasonal firefighters deployed by the start of summer preparing and suppressing fires on Victoria’s public land.

“Every new project firefighter goes through rigorous training and each year we see many returnees who bring with them skills and experience from previous seasons,” Mr Jennings said. 

“Becoming a seasonal firefighter is a great way to make a difference to our state and I encourage fit and able Victorians to apply.” 

On Black Saturday 173 people lost their lives and many others were seriously injured, 78 communities were impacted and 430,000 hectares of land destroyed.

"Six months on, Black Saturday is still with us, because many members of our community are still suffering the affects of the fires,” Brumby said.

“We need to keep working together to help fire-affected individuals, families and communities get back on their feet – as well as prepare for the coming fire season."

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