Tammy Garrett, a service delivery coordinator with the region, says they are running two forums for Community Fireguard groups in the area to get them up to speed on the current learning on fire safety and fire risk.
“We’re going to hold some question and answer forums in the next couple of weeks inviting all Community Fireguard members to come along,” she says. “We’re also inviting representatives from other emergency agencies including police, DSE, councils and local
“We want to show that we’re working on all these issues together, that it’s not just CFA involved in fire planning.
“The other thing we’re hoping to do in the forum is to run a session presenting a series of fire scenarios to see whether some of the planning that the groups are currently using is too reliant on one resource because they need to have a couple of back-up plans.
“It’s about sparking conversation, to see what they might be missing, to ask questions … we’re putting it back out to groups to see where they want the program to go and to see how we can make it run better and get interest back into it.”
In the Community Fireguard program neighbours form a group and start a series of six one-day courses that includes bushfire planning, preparing a property, basic bushfire behaviour, fire danger ratings and warnings.
“They go at the pace and direction of the group,” Tammy says. “If they are very motivated and do it every weekend they can complete it in a couple of months or they can take their time.”
She says after the training is completed the groups then run their own informal meetings – usually at someone’s home – or they can have a CFA facilitator run structured sessions.
The region, which stretches from Lilydale and Warrandyte, the Yarra Valley region and Healesville to the Dandenong Ranges and down to Lysterfield, was hard hit by the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 with 66 deaths and 735 homes lost.
“Parts of the community are still a bit battered after Black Saturday,” Tammy says.
“After the Black Saturday fires we had a huge influx of groups wanting to join that did the training – over 200 groups – but since then a large majority have let the program fall by the wayside and lost interest.
“So we’re trying to reinvigorate the Community Fireguard groups in our region and get people interested in holding meetings, whether they’re formal or informal, because they need to keep talking about fire safety and become more active.
“The plan is to recapture the interest of the groups that came forward after Black Saturday by holding forums in the area near them. They are designed to rekindle their enthusiasm
and interest in protecting their own homes and the homes of their neighbours if a bushfire were to threaten in the future.”
Story written by Yvonne Pecujac