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CFA Bushlands fire briefing December 2016

Antoinette Birkenbeil reports on the CFA Chewton Community Fire Meeting at Chewton Cemetery on Saturday December 10,  2016, attended by Kylie, Jim, Hannah, Tim, Ann Quinton, Glen, Chris, Fran, Jill, John Ellis, Karen, and four dogs, with CFA presenters Alan (from the CFA Community Education Group in Bendigo), David Button (CFA Chewton Captain), Barry Mousey (Second Lieutenant) and his daughter Paige (Third Lieutenant) in front of the CFA ute — full of goodies.

Alan had already done a number of presentations in the state (most recently in Swan Hill) and spoke about his fire fighting experiences then drew on the local CFA members to talk their experiences coming into the bushland.

Fire trucks in the bushlands

The big message was clear. If a unit was able to come out to a fire in this area, it would need large cleared areas with no overhanging trees or branches, for safe entry and exit. The fire truck was parked there, so we could properly appreciate the size of the vehicle and the position of the solid welded metal spray system around the top of the vehicle.

It is a very big vehicle. It cannot turn around. It cannot drive in a place where the sprayer pipes could get caught on branches or damaged.


After some discussion about leaving and establishing that the nearest Neighbourhood Safer Place (NFS) was in front of the IGA in Castlemaine, Alan asked the people who attended the meeting some questions and listened to what they had to say. I think Kylie answered most of them, suggesting it was probably best if you prepare your house and leave on days of Severe (or higher) Fire Danger. Kylie had an excellent plan for that.

The pine trees at the Pyrenees Highway entry to the Bushlands

We looked at the cemetery area and discussed the problem of the overgrown areas and small pines at a key entry and exit point into the bushlands and the dispute about responsibility for the clean up. Glen said State Rivers, Crown Lands and the DSE had once been governing bodies but the issue remained unresolved.

Paige said, in this kind of dispute, responsibility lies with our Municipal Fire Prevention Officer (MFPO) Yes, we have one, who seems to be nameless, but can contacted through the Mount Alexander Shire office.

Alerts technology

Alan’s new information was to let us know that there are changes to the apps, the technologies and bandwidths of the emergency services. He said a new emergency warning app comes out in 12 months but at all times to use your eyes and nose to let you know what is happening around you.

Preparing your house.

(If in doubt see the CFA website for ideas.)

• Big trees 30 metres away from the house can form a barrier and are now considered a good idea as they can trap embers.

• Do not FILL the gutters with water – an inch is sufficient. Bunnings sells gutter block for the downpipes.

• You can wrap your important exposed plastic pipes with sisalation.

• Every member of the family should have their own bag with their name in it and contain their own clothing and essentials. The presentation out of the back of the ute was great and The Bag with the things written on it was fantastic. There was a sort of Christmassy quality to the way he pulled things out of it – or may be it just because it was red with white writing!

To wear:
Clothing cotton and wool
• Roll neck jumper
• Broad brimmed hat
• Leather gloves
• Sunscreen
• Goggles
• Mask
• Long denim pants
• Long-sleeved cotton shirt
Boots (Fire fighters use Rossi lace up boots with steel toes but ordinary Rossi okay too. Also great for walking the fire ground after fire.)

To have:

• Water to drink
• Radio
• Torch (Lyall Eames shop sells a wind-up radio torch – no batteries required)
• Batteries
• Phone
• Charger
• First Aid Kit (Burns and splinters common injures)

Bring in to the house:

• Hoses and fittings and a stepladder
• Metal buckets
• Mop

If trapped at home:

• Do not stay in the bathroom
• Pull curtains and blinds away from windows
• Tour the house and watch the fire
• Listen to the radio
• Check for and respond to ember strike (Super soaker water pistols were recommended for ease of use and the accuracy – and getting into areas like loft spaces. Glen suggested also the five litre garden sprayers, thanks Glen. There are many kinds of fires – grass fires, scrub fires, crown fires, but the biggest danger to homes is before and after the fire with EMBER STRIKE.
• Don’t waste your water

Click here for the Chewton Community Bushfiree Information Guide

For more information go to the CFA website

Chewton CFA is a member of the Metcalfe Group of brigades which includes Castlemaine, Elphinstone, Harcourt, Metcalfe, Langley, Sutton Grange and Taradale. The Metcalfe Group belongs to CFA District 2, headquartered in Bendigo.

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