New CFA fire alert system finalised 

TEXT message warnings over the fire season will reach more Bendigo residents and visitors under a new alert system.

The Country Fire Authority said the arrangements finalised this week would use local Telstra phone towers to relay critical messages of bushfire survival.

CFA district 2 operations manager Mark Gilmore said the service would be ready to operate in Bendigo this summer.

He said the model would transmit an SMS warning through local phone towers to every mobile device registered to a Bendigo address.

But he warned that people should not rely solely on the text service and should always monitor latest conditions.

“We want people to be aware of what’s going on around them. Make sure you’re monitoring the CFA website or listening to the radio for updates,” he said.

“The SMS service is just one measure of getting the message out there.”

Mr Gilmore said the system would be location-based, meaning every mobile phone accessing a Bendigo phone tower would receive the message in the case of an emergency.

“The improvement is that it sends that message to anyone visiting Bendigo,” he said. “It’s also advanced on the old system, with this model sending the message to anyone whose phone has a billing address listed in Bendigo. 

“There’s an agreement with Vodafone for next year and Optus the year after.”

The location-based emergency alert system was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which killed 173 people. 

Mr Gilmore said it was crucial to start preparing now for the upcoming bushfire season.

“There are some parts of the community that aren’t prepared. We just want everyone to be vigilant and get their plans ready now.”

Mr Gilmore said that for advice, people should contact the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 

1800 240 667.

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