By Michael Giles

THE heading on the front page of last week’s Sentinel-Times ‘French toast – Island bushfire a logistical nightmare’ was roundly criticised on social media.
Given the nature of social media, that in itself need not be defining.
But when French Island CFA Brigade First Lieutenant, Linda Bowden, phoned to say the “toast” part was a little “off colour”, we took it down from Facebook. Of course, the printed page still stands.
Ms Bowden was, however, supportive of the article, particularly the comments by Bass Coast Group Officer Damien O’Connor commending local crews who “did a great job protecting a house that was under serious threat” and also stopping the fire’s spread despite obvious logistic problems which, thanks to the tide, the barge and the prompt response from surrounding brigades was text book.
Ms Bowden acknowledged that French Island’s isolation presented its challenges (also its attraction) but noted that good planning had paid off in this instance.
It doesn’t mean the brigade couldn’t do with more support.
“One of our biggest issues is we don’t have a town to rally around us. It’s only a small community on the island.”
But she stopped short of endorsing a crowd-funding page.
“We could do with some extra equipment, most brigades could but if people would like to support us, they can go to the CFA’s website where you can actually support the brigade of your choice.
“I won’t say exactly what we need. We’ll take that up with the CFA, but if people did want to support us, we’d welcome that.”
Ms Bowden said the bushfire event on the island was a good test of the community’s fire plan and would result in a review about what worked and what didn’t.
If you want to help the French Island CFA Brigade or those impacted by the fires, go to the CFA website.
Press ‘Victorian Bushfire Relief – find out more’.
And hit “donate”.
It’s here you will be able to donate to affected families, to support the wellbeing of volunteer firefighters, to donate to the CFA generally for it to continue its work or to donate directly to the brigades in your area or even a specific brigade like French Island.
https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/victorian-bushfire-relief/donate