The state’s top man in an emergency does not want to be the boy who cried wolf, which is why he is not saying this is going to be the worst fire season ever.
Emergency services are preparing for the inevitable central Victorian fires but faced the somewhat difficult task of urging people to prepare for summer.
It is difficult in the sense that not everyone takes the message in, Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.
“If we want to talk about the 2009 fires and Black Saturday, certainly in the year afterwards everyone was focused,” he said.
“But I think it’s just human nature. The longer it’s been since we’ve had something significant like that, the more some people will become complacent.
“So the difficult part is how you try to encourage people every summer.”
Mr Crisp was in Bendigo Thursday as the region’s emergency personnel continued their own planning.
“We are doing everything we can. We have had 50 people in the room from all different organisations talking about what they are doing,” he said.
Now it is community members’ turn to think about fires, heatwaves and storms, with thinking ahead key because in a big emergency crews could not be everywhere at once.
“Have you prepared? Have you got a plan? Do you know where to find that public information?” Mr Crisp asked.
“Tick those boxes. Then, with us doing what we are doing we’ll all be in a much better position.”
Hotter and drier summers seemed to be becoming the new normal, Mr Crisp said.
The state had already seen multiple bushfires after the traditional season finished.
Fire restrictions were now in place in East Gippsland and Wellington after two years of record low rains.
Planning for dealing with shifting fire seasons was taking place, with EMV part of wider discussions about public fire and flood policies.
“We need to think about the future. What does 2030 look like for us? As a sector and as emergency services organisations we need to as what the new capabilities are that we need to be developing,” Mr Crisp said.
Technology will hold at least some of the answers, with more attention on aviation.
This season will see night-time fire suppression trials extended into central Victoria and the rest of the state, with helicopters to be deployed to drop water on fires burning into the evening.
Drones would also be a focus, with emergency crews keen to explore improved technology to chart how a fire developed.
“There’s so much more work that needs to be done, and can be done, around the use of technology,” Mr Crisp said.
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