Preparing for fire season

LOCAL fire authorities are urging the public to start preparing for the upcoming fire season.

At District 20 Gannawarra headquarters in Kerang, commander Luke Waterson and brigade administrative support officer Stephani Ierardo have been working hard to resource and equip the area's 13 brigades in readiness.

While the commander's job is to manage the group of brigades and engage with other stakeholders, the BASO's role is to assist the commander and also support the volunteers with whatever is needed and "keep the communication lines open," Ms Ierardo said.

Recently she has been working on pre-season deliveries.

"We give the brigades an audit checklist, and then we stock them up on what's low - slabs of drinking water, hydralyte sticks, ration packs, consumables, gloves, goggles and masks."

With their own preparations underway, the CFA managers are turning their attention to the role of rural and town residents in helping to prevent fires.

"As an organisation, we're preparing ourselves and we're asking the community to do the same thing," Mr Waterson said.

Mr Waterson said while topography and fuel load in the region made for a more manageable fire risk than in other parts of the state, he urged residents not to be complacent.

"In the past we've had grass and scrub fires which took out hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of fences and infrastructure for farmers," Mr Waterson said. 

Local residents will start to notice the fire safety message ramping up - on billboards and in radio advertising as well as other media.

Mr Waterson appealed to people to use "a bit of common sense".

"If the temperature is up, if the wind is up, if the relative humidity is down, really consider whether you need to have a fire or do some of the works that pose a risk," he said.

He emphasised the importance of also ensuring children were fire aware, particularly given two recent house fires in Cohuna were started by small children.

"It's simple stuff," Mr Waterson said.

"Keep cigarette lighters out of the way of kids, put matches up high, don't leave them in reach of children and don't leave kids unattended."

The Fire Danger Period has been declared for the Gannawarra shire, and will start on October 21.