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Posted on 10/01/2021 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Ensuring Bass Coast is fire ready for Summer

Bass Coast’s Municipal Fire Management Planning Committee (MFMPC) is the team who make sure our region is fire ready this Summer. Despite cooler and wetter conditions so far this year, the team has been working hard to prepare for the summer bushfire season which members acknowledge may come late, but will arrive with fire danger ever present.

The committee has developed the Municipal Fire Management Plan, which identifies different levels of bushfire risk for different localities and identifies how to reduce the risk.

Members include Country Fire Authority (CFA), Victoria Police, Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management Victoria (DELWP), Phillip Island Nature Parks (the Nature Parks), Bass Coast Shire Council and VicRoads. These agencies work together with Ausnet Services, Westernport Water and South Gippsland Water to plan for potential bushfire emergencies in Bass Coast.

In preparation for the upcoming fire season, Nature Parks Rangers have identified a range of fire management priorities, such as visitor and community safety, protection of life and property and the protection of habitat for wildlife such as koalas, Little Penguins and Short-Tailed Shearwater colonies.

“Our primary prevention activities include vegetation management, slashing of strategic fuel breaks near residential areas, along with Ranger patrols, education and implementing Nature Parks regulations,” said Phillip Island Nature Parks Senior Ranger Stefan Poll.

“We are also ensuring our firefighting vehicles are appropriately fitted out and fully operational to conduct first attacks on fires in the event of an incident.”

“This was recently put to the test when an abandoned campfire on Hutchinson Beach spread to surrounding vegetation, but was swiftly brought under control by the CFA and Nature Parks firefighting teams. It’s a timely reminder that no fires are permitted within the Nature Parks.”

Bass Coast Shire Mayor, Cr Brett Tessari, explained that Council has identified where and how to reduce fire risk across Bass Coast.

“Vegetation has dried out considerably over the last few weeks and early indicators are pointing to a long and challenging fire season ahead,” Cr Tessari said.

“It’s not too late to clean up your property if you haven’t already done so, but the window for burning off has now closed.”

Council also maintains a number of Fire Access Tracks and Static Water tanks that are checked during the lead-in to summer to ensure their availability for fire agencies.

Parks Victoria’s Area Chief Ranger Gerard Delaney explained that fire preparations are well underway in Parks Victoria-managed areas across the Bass Coast.

“The current conditions in our parks are starkly different from the same time last year. However, we are prepared for any eventuality.”

“If you would like to report potential fire hazard concerns on public land, please phone 13 1963.”

Victoria Police Senior Sargent, Andy O’Brien said that the Police will be conducting targeted patrols during the Fire Danger Period. Anyone detected lighting fires or using illegal fireworks during the Fire Danger Period will be prosecuted. Anyone who sees anything suspicious is encouraged to contact Police on 000 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

The fire danger period for Bass Coast started on 16 December 2020 and runs through until 1 May 2021.
CFA Community Safety will be delivering a number of community education activities in Bass Coast during the 2020/21 summer, visiting caravan parks and other popular locations.

“If you are a local or a visitor to Bass Coast, you must have a Plan of what you and your family will do on those high-risk fire danger days”, said Damien O’Connor of Bass Coast Group of Fire Brigades.

“It’s important to have a plan for those Fire Danger Rating days of Severe, Extreme and Code Red to not be around areas of high risk and look at alternative activities for the day.”

For further information call Vic Emergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 or visit:- Nature Parks www.penguins.org.au/conservation/environment/conservation-programs/fire-management/ or
- CFA www.cfa.vic.gov.au