VIDEO: Firefighters prepare for summer

VIDEO: Leigh Sharp

The Country Fire Authority and Department of Environment and Primary Industries are continuing preparations for the bushfire season, with predictions for a hot summer.

Firefighter training was at Bendigo airport on Wednesday morning, with more than 50 people in attendance.

It involved various flight exercises and practice in refueling and filling water bombing aircraft.

The department's land and fire regional manager Scott Falconer, who co-ordinated the training, said the fire authority, the department and Parks Victoria had worked closely together to run the training.

“The exercises are designed as a refresher course for volunteers and crews to help familiarise firefighters with the aircraft,” Mr Falconer said.

“The commitment between all the workers and volunteers is great.

“The aircraft are better than they've ever been and the pre-determined dispatch system allows us to have aircraft in the air in around eight minutes.

“It’s much better than the old system, which was around 25 minutes.”

Mr Falconer said while the fire season was hard to predict, recent wet weather as well as hot and dry conditions during summer would create a higher risk.

The fire authority's community education co-ordinator Paul Tangey said there was an increased risk of fire on very hot days, and people needed to be aware of the conditions.

“Fast-moving grass fires are definitely a greater risk given the recent weather conditions,” he said.

“Always check your local conditions either via the CFA website or by calling your local fire brigade – these are the best sources of local information.

“There’s potential for fire during any season - especially when it’s hot and windy - so people need to be vigilant.

“Be aware of wind direction - and if you can smell smoke, it’s time to start thinking about what you plan to do.

“If you can see smoke, it’s time to do something.

“If you can see flames, it’s too late to leave. You need to adapt, find shelter and look out for others,” he said.

Mr Tangey said central Victoria could expect fire restrictions to be in place for most of the summer period.

For more information on dates and restrictions in the area, go to www.cfa.vic.gov.au or www.emergency.vic.gov.au

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