Volunteers gearing up for summer

The Golden Square Fire Brigade is trained in specialised firefighting equipment found only in Bendigo and Melbourne. Picture: PETER WEAVING
The Golden Square Fire Brigade is trained in specialised firefighting equipment found only in Bendigo and Melbourne. Picture: PETER WEAVING

Volunteer fire brigades across central Victoria are gearing up for a long, hot fire season in preparation for another dangerous summer.

Maryborough Fire Brigade captain Darryl Wagstaff said his team was expecting “a lot of fast running grass fires” during the weeks and months to come.

“With the late rain we’ve had prolific grass growth over the last few months and with the warmer weather now coming the grass is starting to cure,” he said.

“We’ve got restrictions come in here in the Central Goldfields Shire on the 12th of December so we’re really gearing up for fast-running grass fires this summer.”

Mr Wagstaff said despite the “extreme” forecast, the brigade was prepared for the worst but hoped for the best, and reminded residents “the simple things” could help prevent disaster.

“Clear up around you’re property, it’s not too late to cut the grass,” he said.

“You may cut it once now, but you might need to cut it again a second or maybe a third time with all the rain that we’ve had, and clean up any other rubbish that’s around the house like wood piles or papers or overhanging trees.”

Meanwhile Golden Square Fire Brigade first lieutenant Matt Atkins said his unit had also been put through its paces in anticipation of the heightened grass fire risk during the fire danger period, which begins in Bendigo on Monday.

“We dedicate close to two months to training for it so we do a lot of refreshers like burnover training simulations where we’re stuck in a burnover situation, and all members have got to go through that,” he said.

“Because we’ve got specialist vehicles, we’ve got a field operations vehicle as well, it’s generally more active during the summer season so it will go to the larger grass and bushfires so we do training with that as well over that November/December period.”

Mr Atkins echoed his Central Goldfields counterpart in his advice for those whose lives and property his brigade may be called upon to protect in the event of a major fire.

“Make sure that you’re aware of the hazards on your property and if you’re not sure, certainly get in contact with the CFA, obviously speak to your local brigade as well if you’re not sure on what action to take,” he said.

For more information find your local fire brigade, including Maryborough and Golden Square on Facebook.

Bendigo stations on fire alert list

Official emergency broadcasters are GOLD (98.3FM in Bendigo and 1071AM across Central Victoria); 3BO, Star FM, KLFM and ABC local radio.

You can also stay informed by tuning in to Sky News broadcasts, phoning the VicEmergency hotline on 1800 226 226, visiting emergency.vic.gov.au, and downloading the new VicEmergency app. Visit emv.vic.gov.au for a list of emergency broadcasters.

Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said community radio stations were a trusted source of emergency information and had an important role to play during fires, floods and other major incidents.

“With summer just around the corner, now is a great time to increase your understanding of the fire risk in your local area, prepare your property, and talk to your household about what you’ll do to stay safe from fire,” he said.