Victoria facing worst ever fire season: John Brumby

Black Saturday bushfires.The CFA chief heavily criticised for his handling of Black Saturday will be responsible for keeping Victoria safe as it faces its worst-ever fire season, Premier John Brumby has said.Mr Brumby warned Victorians that 13 years of drought will make the coming fire season, less than 10 weeks away, potentially more dangerous than 2008-09 during which 173 people died.”On all of the latest information and evidence we’ve got, the forthcoming fire season is going to be worse than the one we’ve just experienced and that’s because of 13 years of dry conditions,” he told Radio 3AW.Mr Brumby said CFA chief officer Russell Rees would be at the helm despite the Bushfires Royal Commission’s interim report finding he failed to protect Victorians on February 7.”I though the worst thing for our state was to have major changes to the leadership of our fire organisation when the task we’ve got, I’ve got, the community’s got, the fire agencies have got, is to make our state as safe as possible in the run up to this fire season,” Mr Brumby said.The Premier defended Mr Rees and said he had done the best he could.He said this season Mr Rees’ role would be clearer than on Black Saturday when the commission said he had failed to take on an operational role. Mr Rees would be responsible for ensuring “that the state is kept safe”.Mr Brumby said the Government wanted to investigate further the commission’s recommendation that a single person based at a local incident control centre would be responsible for issue advice on whether people should relocate.”That is a big, big, big responsibility for someone to take and you want to make sure that you’ve got the right people there,” he said.In the lead-up to the summer, Mr Brumby said there would be more controlled burns and roadside burning for firebreaks.”The amount of fuel reduction burning that we did in the last year has been more than any time in the last 15 years,” he said.The commission is due to report on fuel reduction, for which it received the most submissions, next year.Mr Brumby is expected to outline about 50 locations at high risk of bushfires this season during a press conference to be held this morning.Mr Rees said the CFA was ready to change and welcomed the commission’s findings.The commission’s interim report handed down yesterday recommended an overhaul of the contentious stay-or-go policy that includes telling residents death is a possible consequence of not evacuating early.It has also empowered Mr Rees with irresponsibility for issuing public fire warnings.”The public needs to know that we are looking to the future – taking on board these messages, understanding what we have learnt,” he told the Nine Network today.He said other matters including vegetation, planning and community readiness had also become a focus for the fire service.Acknowledging that the Victorian community continued to hurt after the tragic fires that killed 173 people and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, Mr Rees stressed the CFA was now trying to move forward.Future improvements to warning information should include better websites, radio broadcasts and a national telephony system, Mr Rees said.He agreed with the report’s emphasis that the controversial stay-or-go policy needed refinement.”We are seeking to change so that the whole of the community is very clear,” Mr Rees said.”And part of that is issues of giving them the ability to personally look at their own situation – giving them advice, giving them the opportunity to make that hard decision.”Community education is one thing, community action … is very important to us.”But the issue of fuel loads require more community discussion, he said.”There has to be a debate about where we’re living, and how we’re living … information is only one part of this incredibly complex system of high-risk environment that we’re in in the state of Victoria and southeastern Australia.” theage南京夜网.au
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