IT’S not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’ the next major fire will impact the coastal township of Cape Paterson.
And coastal fire brigades aren’t about to sit back and wait until it happens, whether it’s at Cape or one of a number of fire-prone coastal settlements in the Bass Coast Shire.
Last Wednesday night, on either side of a hot-red sun going down, they executed a realistic mock response to a bushfire in the town, making sure trucks and slip-ons could travel along the access paths cut through the coastal bush, ensuring the brigades worked well together with Parks Victoria firefighters and the Bass Coast Shire’s emergency management team and that locals were notified.
“We’ve got crews going through the caravan park to see if they’d know what to do in the event of an evacuation call,” said incident controller, Kim O’Connor of the Wonthaggi CFA.
“We also want to see that the work done by the shire to keep these fire access tracks open has been effective,” said James Bremner, the BCSC Emergency Management coordinator.
Crews from the likes of San Remo, Inverloch, Wonthaggi and Glen Alvie were on the scene with the operation going into the night to test night-time capability as well.
After all, that’s what happened in February 2004 when a deliberately lit fire in the foreshore vegetation burnt hard and fast, threatening the caravan park and nearby residents.
It could have had horrific outcomes except for a fortunate wind change and cooler temperatures later in the evening.
There’s been a serious fire in Cape Paterson every 20 years, so it pays to review your own fire response plans and not leave it all up to the CFA volunteers, who were applauded for their efforts after last week’s exercise.
Cape Paterson test case for local fire fighters