Plenty of timeWhat are you going to do?

Approximately 290 people attended the What if it’s Warrandyte? event on Thursday 28 November 2013, on a cold, wet weeknight.  With rain at times pounding on the roof bushfire plans were put to the test and discussed with emergency service agencies and participants.



Key Emergency Service Agency Messages/Actions:

  • DEPI – preparing fire breaks, fuel reduction burns, planning
  • Local government – prepare for relief and recovery, prepare fire prevention plans on land they manage, test their plans, participate in Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committees which are cross agency committees focused on planning and exercises.
  • Parks Victoria – Manages the  majority of the crown land in the Warrandyte area and work with DEPI on fire management activities
  • Victoria Police – Focus on the prevention of casualties. Look at causes and patterns of the previous season, work with community/cultural groups to close bushfire knowledge gaps and provide education.
  • CFA – preparing, planning and fighting fires.


On days of increased bushfire risk, emergency service agencies change their behaviour to be ‘ready for action’ (prepared) for a bushfire event. Residents should also change their normal behaviour and be on alert, eg. do not leave dependants at home alone even for a short time.

How would you know there is a bushfire in the area?

  • CFA’s Fire Ready app on your smart phone (if you have one). This app has been improved in preparation for the 2013/14 fire season to prevent crashing when in high demand.
  • Various webpages – CFA, DEPI, Warrandyte Fire Watch (if you have internet access)
  • CFA scanner
  • Community Fireguard phone tree
  • Looking around your surroundings – smell/see smoke
  • Hear sirens/see fire trucks – a trigger to seek more information

How do the schools know there is a fire in the area?
All of the above, and they may be advised by the education department.


What do the various warning messages mean?
There are three levels of warning message (available on the CFA website);

  1. Advice – General information to keep you up-to-date with developments
  2. Watch and Act – An emergency threatens you. Conditions are changing and you need to start taking action now to protect your health, life and your family.
  3. Emergency Warning – You are in imminent danger and need to take action immediately. You will be impacted by the emergency.

It is important to make yourself familiar with these warning messages before the bushfire season

It is also important to know that a fire will be named based on the location from where it is first reported and this name will remain, even if the fire moves across suburbs/towns. You must read the content of the entire message.  Remember that these messages can take some time to be issued, depending on a range of circumstances and you need to use other information sources and be aware of conditions.


We all need to identify what our triggers will be to take action – residents, schools and emergency service agencies.

What will the emergency services agencies be doing during a bushfire event?

  • DEPI – are involved at the Incident Control Centre (the nearest ICC for Warrandyte is Kangaroo Ground). NB: All key agencies will be represented at the ICC.
  • Parks Victoria – have one fire truck and four 4WD’s. They will attend the fire with CFA when the fire is on Crownland, near Crownland, or when requested.
  • Police – focus on prevention of casualties. Possibly call in other resources and set up Traffic Management Points (TMP). Once a TMP is in place, you can leave the area however you cannot go back until an official All Clear is received – no conversation will be entered into. Don’t expect to see a familiar face at the TMP – these officers may be brought in from other areas and may not be familiar with Warrandyte.
  • CFA – Focus on protection of life and assets. They will be fighting the fire/s and deploying resources from the direction of staff out of the ICC in Kangaroo Ground.
  • Local government – will monitor situation and consider the possibility of opening a Emergency Relief Centre (evacuation centre).


If the school has enacted their bushfire plan, can I pick up my kids?
No. Traffic congestion in and around the school during a bushfire event carries many risks. Taking a child out of the school and putting them on the road could place them in more danger. As part of your plan you need to consider whether you would prefer to keep your child/children home from school and taken out of the area on days of increased bushfire risk. If so, inform the school of your plan.
Teachers will remain with the children until an official All Clear message has been received.

Which route would you take to leave the area?
As the scenario showed, not all fires will come from the north. Your plan needs to include possible routes you will take to leave the area and consider all possibilities.

Should I go to the NSP – Place of Last Resort?
In Manningham there are three NSP’s – Places of Last Resort. They should NOT be part of your plan as a first option. There will be no one to let you in and there will be no services provided. They are places of absolute last resort when all else has failed.

What impact can a ‘cool-change’ have on a fire?
As the scenario showed, when the cool change arrives the wide flank of the fire becomes the fire front, changing the size of the fire from narrow to possibly kilometres in length. Areas that thought they were out of danger could now be in great danger. It is important to keep an eye on weather conditions and monitor information sources until an official All Clear has been given.



Where do you go and what do you do if you get stuck?
You need to consider where in your house will provide the greatest shelter from radiant heat should you be unable to leave. Look for an area that has solid walls and more than one exit, including an external exit, not a bathroom. You need to stay in the house as long as possible if it catches on fire while the fire front passes.

Have protective clothing available for all members of the household and spares for visitors. If you have children in the house review the clothing every year to ensure it still fits. Wear protective clothing during the fire event if you have been unable to leave. Sheltering under the bridge is not a good option. There would be a great deal of smoke, radiant heat and it would not offer a great deal of shelter.

If I leave early, how do I know when to come back and how long do I plan to be away for?
If you have left early you need to wait until an official All Clear has been declared before returning. Depending on the severity of the fire event, this may be hours, days or in the case of Black Saturday, weeks. Your relocation kit should allow for at least a few days.