The biggest issue firefighters face this summer in Barmah National Park is access to the park and the heavy dry fuel load, Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed said after a tour of the forest with DELWP chief fire officer Alan Goodwin this week.
“After meeting DELWP, CFA captains and Parks Victoria staff in the forest, I’m satisfied that agencies understand the risks and will work co-operatively to manage the park over the holiday period,’’ Ms Sheed said.
“That said, they have made it clear that compliance will be enforced if people ignore warnings on Total Fire Ban and Code Red days.”
Ms Sheed met Mr Goodwin, senior DELWP and Parks Victoria staff and local CFA members at Yalca before they went into Barmah National Park to inspect Chinamans Garden where there was a bushfire in February 2014 and a planned burn later that year. Next the group moved on to Browns Camp, which had a planned burn in October 2008.
Mr Goodwin discussed fire behaviour in Red Gum Forests and outlined how fuel hazards are assessed and how they build up again after fires.
The final area to look at was the Gulf track strategic break. There Mr Goodwin outlined the agencies’ approach to fire management in Barmah including strategic fire breaks, access, protecting private land from fires originating in the forest, and methods of alternative fuel treatment.
Along with Mr Goodwin, Ms Sheed met key DELWP staff Shaun Lawlor (Hume Region fire and land manager), Goulburn District manager Lucas Russell and Hume Region operations director Tony Long along with Parks Victoria’s senior Northern Region operations manager Stuart Hughes and Northern Rivers district manager Dan McLaughlin.
Ms Sheed was told secondary road access would be looked at by DELWP as a matter of priority, as would various means of communication with campers.
She said DELWP staff would also be mapping where mobile phones work and driving around the campsites alerting people in the days before a Code Red weather event.