Report Finds ‘Considerable Progress’ On East Gippsland Fire Reform

• Minister honours commitment to release findings of independent report
• Concerns of residents acknowledged and being acted on
• Napthine Government building a safer Victoria

Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Kim Wells today released the 2013-14 Fire Season Compliance Report, by Inspector-General for Emergency Management, Tony Pearce.

“I made a commitment to Victorians that Mr Pearce would complete an independent report on the progress and implementation of identified actions relating to issues from 2013-14 fire season, and specifically the East Gippsland fires, and that this report would be publically released,” Mr Wells said.

“Today that commitment is honoured.”

“The Inspector-General’s report is about ensuring that community concerns have been addressed and necessary reforms to the emergency management sector are identified and implemented to ensure Victoria is a safer place.”

The Inspector-General’s report highlights the ‘considerable progress’ on actions relating to:

• Improving road traffic management;
• Increasing community involvement in fire preparedness, response and recovery;
• initial attack and utilisation of resources; and
• cross-border fire arrangements.

The report found that of 86 actions proposed, only seven were yet to commence.

“I’d like to thank community members from East Gippsland who have played an integral role in this process, contributing to this report and identifying issues within our emergency services arrangements which can be improved upon,” Mr Wells said.

“I have requested that Mr Pearce monitor the ongoing implementation of the remaining actions throughout the upcoming fire season to ensure that they progress.

“With the weather forecasts indicating hot and dry conditions this summer, it is absolutely crucial that the recommendations identified within this report are implemented in full, to ensure Victoria is better prepared and any adverse impact on local communities is minimised.”

“The Victorian Coalition Government, together with the emergency services have listened to and acknowledged the concerns of community members around the initial attack on the fires in East Gippsland.

“That is why the Napthine Government recently announced it would boost emergency response capabilities in the Latrobe Valley, providing $588,000 in additional funding for a specialist firebombing helicopter to be based in the region this summer.

“Specialist aviation resources based in the Latrobe Valley will ensure rapid response to incidents across the whole Gippsland region and boost community safety for local residents.

“We also announced $6.56 million for two large fixed wing airtankers, which are the largest ever to be used in Australia, with a carrying capacity of approximately 12,000 and 17,000 litres.

“These aircraft will ensure there will be a stronger and quicker initial attack on fires anywhere in the state this summer, which means local communities will be better protected,” Mr Wells said.

Minister Wells will return to East Gippsland later this month to discuss the findings and recommendations with local communities in Bonang, Goongerah-Deddick, Lindenow and surrounding areas.

The IGEM report is available at www.igem.vic.gov.au

Media contact: Jess Jackson 0437 422 048 [email protected]