CENTRAL Victorian firefighters are preparing for the coming bushfire season within the unique constraints of a pandemic.
Country Fire Authority crews are called to emergencies year-round, but attend hundreds of fires during summer.
This year they will maintain COVID-19 safety protocols while doing so.
CFA District Two acting assistant chief fire officer Chris Jacobsen said the fire services just had to adapt to the situation.
He said COVID-19 requirements overrode all business except emergency calls.
Even at emergencies, firefighters still had to be COVID-aware, Mr Jacobsen said.
This meant not attending call-outs if they had any symptoms, limiting numbers within vehicles, mask wearing and social distancing.
Mr Jacobsen said even in case of a major fire crews would maintain COVID-safe principles, such as limited numbers on trucks.
He said these general principals would apply differently to each fire depending on the circumstance.
Mr Jacobsen said brigades were allowed to continue essential outdoor training, in limited numbers.
They were still conducting pre-season preparedness activities, such as burnover drills and hazardous tree assessments.
Mr Jacobsen said for the community, the fire safety message was the same as always: the CFA can't have a truck at every property in an emergency.
He urged people to make their own plans and prepare their properties before the fire season hit.
"The CFA volunteers that are going out ... not only do they put themselves at risk on the fire ground ... they're actually putting themselves into a community where they don't know whether people have COVID," he said.
"Each time we're called out, it's putting our people at risk in some way, shape or form.
"We try and limit the risk as best as can, but we ask the community do do their preparations."
A CFA spokesperson said the CFA had continued to respond to emergencies such as structure fires and hazardous material incidents throughout the paramedic.
They said nearly 2000 CFA members had trained as COVID-19 coordinators, to oversee in-person training exercises.
Members had completed essential pre-fire-season training and skill maintenance, while keeping to COVID-19 safety guidelines, they said. Others had taken online training passages.
The spokesperson said the CFA had limited the number of people travelling together in single cab vehicles, to limit exposure. They said many brigades had established rosters and teams to manage emergency response.
Find out more at: cfa.vic.gov.au/home
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