Cape Otway Fuel Reduction and Ecological Burns Program
Led by: Conservation Ecology Centre
Supported by: Country Fire Authority, Southern Otway Landcare Network
The Cape Otway Fuel Reduction and Ecological Burns Program was started by the Conservation Ecology Centre and is working to reduce fuel hazard and improve biodiversity in Cape Otway.
The project started with a study to understand how significant changes in land use and fire were impacting biodiversity. It has since developed partnerships with CFA and Southern Otway Landcare Network to deliver planned burns on private land. Based on knowledge gained from the study and ongoing data collection, the program is changing traditional approaches to burning, moving from less frequent high intensity burns to more frequent cooler burns.
Along the way, the program has built relationships with local residents, having conducted 19 burns on 14 private properties.
The judges commended the project for combining an evidence-based approach to fire management, with collaborative engagement, to reduce bushfire impact and improve biodiversity.
Strathewen Education Partnership – Fire Danger Rating Animation
Led by: Strathewen Primary School, Arthurs Creek Strathewen Fire Brigade (CFA),
Supported by: Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal, Strathewen Bushfire Relief Trust, CFA Survive and Thrive Pilot Program
Srathewen Primary School, in collaboration with the Arthurs Creek Strathewen Fire Brigade produced an entertaining and informational Claymation video around the fire danger rating (FDR) theme. With the school destroyed by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, Principal Jane Hayward recognised the need to implement a program about living with fire risk and to help the children ‘love where they live’ again. Narrated by grade six students, with production assistance from the CFA Survive and Thrive program, the film follows Gem Gem, the local pet dog of a Strathewen family. Gem Gem outlines the conditions of each day based on the fire danger rating, and the family’s actions in response to the FDR each day.
RMIT University conducted an evaluation of the program and found that students demonstrated a high awareness of bushfire risks, understanding of factors that can influence fire, as well as a comprehensive understanding of fire danger ratings and key bushfire safety measures.
Led by: Fireball Committee
The Fireball Committee was established in October 2016 to relieve the fundraising burden from local Country Fire Authority officials and allow them to focus on what they do best – fighting fires and saving lives. The Fireball Committee, made up of local volunteers from Warrandyte, sought to raise $100,000 for the purchase of a new ‘first to respond’ emergency vehicle, an important asset that was needed for the local community. Together, the local Fireball volunteers developed a fundraising strategy to raise the required amount. A gala night was organised, which featured dancing from the local firefighters, a Pommery Champagne Bar and gourmet food and wine for the 350 guests in attendance supporting Fireball’s initiative. Local small businesses and larger state-wide businesses also contributed, donating sponsorship funds to Fireball’s cause.
Due to the Fireball Committee’s efforts, more than $100,000 was raised which allowed the local CFA to buy the fire response vehicle outright.
Forrest & Barwon Downs Communities “Bushfire Scenario – Know your Risks and Determine your Options”
Led by: Forrest Neigbourhood House, Forrest and District Community Group
Supported by: Forrest Fire Brigade (CFA), Barwon Downs Fire Brigade (CFA)
In the aftermath of the Wye River bushfire, the Forrest & Barwon Downs Communities initiated an program to increase awareness of bushfire risk and bushfire safe places among residents. Prior to the Wye River bushfire, many local residents possessed an unrealistic view of their level of bushfire safety and preparedness, which jeopardised the plans of others in the community. After the tragedy, two Forrest residents, Peter Ashton and Gillian Brew, drove the campaign to educate residents about fire safety and their action plan for when the threat of bushfire is present. With help from local volunteer fire brigades, the pair developed an interactive, real life fire scenario to assist the community in gaining a better understanding of potential bushfire impacts. This led to notable changes in community discourse about fire risk and planning, and had a tangible impact on residents’ perspectives of their current fire readiness and survival plans.
Kinglake Lions Community Tool Library
Led by: Kinglake Lions Club
Supported by: Kinglake Lions Club Habitat for Humanity, Lions Clubs International
Having the appropriate equipment to reduce fuel loads in high fire risk areas can be challenging for residents of local communities. Kinglake Lions Community Tool Library has solved this problem by making available various equipment and tools for local residents to use in order to mitigate the amount of fuel around their properties. The library plays a role in building fire awareness in Kinglake by encouraging residents to be proactive about fuel loads on their property and lending tools to the member households so they have the means to do so.