By Michael Giles

STARTING on Sunday, October 23 this week, it’s Fire Action Week, a time to officially kick off preparations for the 2016-17 fire season.
And while record spring rainfall in many parts of the state, and near record levels in other areas mean that the wild fire danger period has either been greatly reduced or pushed out further into the warmer months, we will definitely still have our moments this summer.
How quickly we forget.
Last summer Victoria experienced an early start to the summer season, with significant fires in October and November, followed by the Wye River/Separation Creek fire in late December 2015.
Across the entire season, there were 21 Total Fire Ban days, with Extreme Fire Danger conditions forecast over five days.
In total, Victoria’s emergency services responded to over 4,500 bush and grassfires, resulting in 28,000 hectares burnt and the loss of 145 homes.
Fire Action Week provides a great opportunity to consider what you need to do to protect your family and your property ahead of the fire season, and also for the emergency services to have their briefings and start to make their preparation in earnest for the dangers that may, correction will, lie ahead.
So, good on the State Government and the emergency service agencies for highlighting this important issue to the community.
But there’s something else the State Government should attend to this Fire Action Week, and in the months beyond, and that’s mending fences.
Talking to some CFA members over the weekend, and in recent times, there’s no doubt that a lot of them feel browned off by “all the crap that has been
going on”.
Some people I have spoken to don’t want a bar of politics and they’re considering giving volunteer fire fighting away. They joined the CFA because you could basically run your own show down at your local CFA shed, keeping in contact with the region, but simply getting together with likeminded people to help protect your local community, and beyond when required, in the case of fire.
It would be terribly damaging to this sensational organisation that only deserves our praise and support, if valued volunteers started to drift away for feeling unappreciated, or if others didn’t come forward to join.
Having pushed through the UFU’s claims, it is now incumbent on Daniel Andrews to show some leadership where the volunteers are concerned as well.
He could start by saying “I’m sorry” and “We need you”.