Emergency services get fire ready

Ellen Harper, Peter Creak, Chris Gore and Michael Harper (Louisa Jones) 261919_01

Ash Bolt

Emergency responders will be more prepared than ever should a bushfire threaten the Surf Coast Shire after this week using new cutting-edge technology to train their response.

More than 50 participants from government agencies including the SES, Victoria Police, Fire Rescue Victoria, the shire and the health department took part in the Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) and CFA-run training at the Geelong Incident Control Centre last week.

The training used new software developed by the CSIRO’s Data61 and RMIT which combined fire spread modelling, traffic data and predictions of human behaviour to test for mock bushfire scenarios.

“Summer evacuations along the Great Ocean Road pose a significant challenge for emergency services due to increased visitation, but we’re always prepared for that possibility,” CFA south west regional commander Peter Creak said.

“This exercise is part of extensive preparation to ensure the region is ready for fire season.”

Mr Creak said knowing when to make the call to evacuate residents and moving people quickly but safely was one of the hardest parts of the response and the Evacuation Decision Support System allowed emergency responders to simulate and evaluate different strategies using computer modelling.

It was the first time the system had been used by emergency responders in the region.

“Having access to new technology that tests outcomes of our evacuation plans is a significant advancement in emergency management,” FFMVic emergency management spokesperson Michael Harper said.

“The Evacuation DSS simulates realistic weather conditions, fire behaviour, traffic movement and human behaviour, giving participants a similar experience to responding to a real emergency.”