The heavy rains on the weekend just past may have alleviated the onset of the fire danger period in much of Victoria, which is gazetted in many local government areas as 4 December to 1 May. In East Gippsland, however, we have been reminded of the constant need to stay alert and be aware by the recent bushfire around Cann River which affected more than 8,000 hectares.

Elsewhere, preparations will now be underway by many of our members for a long and hot summer ahead; the forests of southern Australia remain amongst the most at-risk from bushfires in the world.

The forestry industry plays a vital role in prevention and mitigation of bushfires, and their working knowledge of our forests and machinery provided by the timber industry is crucial in bushfire fighting efforts. Their work to prepare for fires in turn benefits the whole community.

Industry brigades are required under state legislation to protect company assets but, as we know, they lend a hand in the surrounding areas when required. Industry brigade members are also available within the CFA structure to provide leadership and guidance to other agencies who may not be as experienced in the region, particularly in fighting plantation fires.

Not only do many forestry businesses train staff in fire prevention and fire fighting, they also maintain the essential network of forest access tracks that are able to give other agencies access to the fire front at short notice. As we know, the ‘first strike’ is so important to contain a fire before it burns out of control, and forest access is key in this regard.

Thanks goes to our members for their efforts in fire management, and also our thanks to the agencies they work with including VicForests, Parks Victoria, DELWP and the CFA. Please look out for your co-workers, families and communities throughout this summer.

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