As we approach the second anniversary of the Victorian bushfires of February 2009 we remember and honour the 173 people who died.
Our thoughts are with the communities, including CFA members, CFA families and brigades, who lost so much in the fires. Two years on, the recovery and rebuilding process is ongoing.
We acknowledge the powerful resilience of those who lost what is irreplaceable and yet have started their lives again.
February 7 is a significant day for so many in Victoria. As an organisation, CFA has learnt from that day, as difficult as the lessons were.
We reflect on the fires leading up to February 7, particularly those in Gippsland; and on the extraordinary work of CFA brigades across the state in the extremely challenging conditions that followed.
We remember the stories of professionalism, dedication, courage and selfless bravery. Those stories capture the spirit of CFA.
We've seen much of that spirit this year as CFA Members, leaders in their communities, have helped their fellow Victorians respond to a different kind of threat; the worst floods in our history. This week, we have returned to facing our traditional summer threat.
Two years after Black Saturday, it is both water and fire that endangers our communities.
We recognise that CFA families and brigades still need support - and we will support them. CFA has extensive welfare support services available for CFA members and their families:
CFA is a much changed organisation from the one it was two years ago. We have a new approach to incident management; we've built stronger partnerships at local and state levels, with other fire agencies and with the communities we serve. We will continue implementing wide-ranging recommendations from the Royal Commission, and we will keep changing and improving to better protect our communities.
But one thing remains constant, indeed one part of our organisation that will always be our greatest strength, and that is the character of our members.
This year an interfaith service to remember the people and communities affected by the February 2009 fires will be held in Melbourne, at the Zinc Space, Federation Square, at 3pm on Sunday, 6 February. CFA representatives will be there. This event is open to all who would like to attend.
There are also local events being held in fire-affected communities; some open, some private. If you would like support for a local event, please do not hesitate to contact your District office.
It is a difficult time for many, and I encourage you to look out for each other as the anniversary approaches. Together, we will continue to strengthen our organisation for the benefit of the Victorian community.