Victorians are being urged to start preparing themselves and their properties as Victoria’s emergency management sector begin preparations for the upcoming summer season.
Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp, said while it had been cold and still wet in some parts of the state, it is time for individuals, families and communities to think about preparedness ahead of summer.
“What is the plan you are putting in place for yourself, your family, pets and stock? As part of your plan, think about the clear triggers and when you will enact your plan,” Mr Crisp said.
“The other piece is about information; good information will always lead to good decisions. Victorians need to know how they can access good information – through the VicEmergency app, social media including Facebook and Twitter, and through emergency broadcasters.
“As a sector we’re getting prepared, but my question to Victorians is: are you prepared?”
Mr Crisp said the seasonal outlook suggests that Victoria would have a normal fire season, however East and West Gippsland, extending to the Great Dividing Range, conditions appear to be above normal.
“Similar to last year, we know that Gippsland will again be a focus for us. Fire restrictions will come into place in East Gippsland Shire from Monday 23 September, and that’s the second earliest they have come into effect,” Mr Crisp said.
“While we are facing similar conditions to last year in East Gippsland, it’s important for all Victorians to be aware that fires can happen anywhere and without warning.
“In Victoria it will be hot and there will be fires. But summer is not just about fires, it’s about heat, floods, storms and water safety.”
In 2018-19 there were more than 7000 grass, scrub and bushfires in Victoria. There were 67 Total Fire Ban days, compared to 41 the previous year.
Aircraft were more active, with 2757 dispatches, compared to 2217 the previous year.
There were more frequent hot days over summer, which led to 74 Heat Health Alerts, 19 more than the previous year.
In December 2018, there was a significant flash flooding of the Hume Highway near Wangaratta that caused approximately 50 vehicles to become trapped in floodwaters.
Tragically, there were 56 drowning deaths in Victorian coastal waters and inland waterways.
“All indicators show we were busier last summer than the year before. We do need to think about that, reflect on that as we plan for the upcoming summer,” Mr Crisp said.
In Victoria, there will be 50 aircraft available for the 2019-20 summer season to help ground crews keep communities safe.
The fleet includes a mix of water bombing aircraft, air supervision and air intelligence-gathering aircraft.
Victoria also has a surge capacity of up to 100 aircraft that can supplement the Victorian core fleet and can be called when needed.
Night aviation operations including firebombing and intelligence gathering will continue over the 2019-20 summer, with a number of specialised aircraft.
“There is a shared responsibility around staying safe over summer. We will do what we can to keep the Victorian community safe, but we need the community to help us keep them safe,” Mr Crisp said.