Olivia lives with the rare Kleefstra Syndrome.

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Fire Action Week 2014: Preparing for the 2014-15 Bushfire Season

Fire Action Week, which runs from 17 to 24 November, signals the start of the Victorian government’s Summer Fire Campaign. During the week, Victorian emergency services will be promoting fire awareness messages through events including CFA Sunday (24 November), when brigades across the state will open their doors to communities to discuss local risk and how to get prepared.

This year, the campaign encourages Victorians to plan and prepare for fire and to know when to leave. Victorians will be receiving information on bushfire and grassfire safety in several different formats over the summer months, including television, radio, print and online advertisements urging people to be prepared to leave early in the event of a fire.

It is often assumed that bushfires are contained to rural areas, but newer suburbs on the fringes of Melbourne and other major towns and cities, where homes and other buildings meet bush or grasslands, are also at risk. This was alarmingly evident on October 22 this year, when a grass fire came within 5-10 metres of homes in Hillside, in Melbourne’s north-west.

Fire Action Week is an important time for Victorians to plan and prepare for fire, and the message is simple: no matter where you live, it’s up to you to understand your fire risk and be ready to act if fire breaks out.

Bushfire related resources are listed below.

Victorian Bushfire Information Line 1800 240 667

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment, you can contact VBIL through National Relay Service on 1800 555 677.

If you don’t speak English, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450.

The Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) provides information during and after major bushfire incidents. It also offers information to help householders, landowners and small businesses reduce bushfire risk. In a situation where you can see or smell smoke, VBIL can advise whether or not a planned burn is in progress.

To report a fire or emergency, phone Triple Zero (000)

Ring the Victorian Information Line to find out:

  • What you can and can’t do on a Total Fire Ban day or during the Fire Danger Period (fire restrictions)
  • Current Fire Danger Ratings and what the ratings mean
  • Current DEPI fuel reduction burns and other planned burns
  • Key bushfire preparation and planning information
  • Programs, publications and services available from both CFA and DEPI, including community meetings
  • Emergency Relief Centre location details
  • Neighbourhood Safer Place location details
  • Recovery after a bushfire, including financial assistance essential water replacement and rehabilitation of assets and forest
  • Community Information Guides

You can also email VBIL on vbil.info@dse.vic.gov.au

Country Fire Authority

The CFA provides warnings and restrictions regarding total fire bans, fires and other information. Updates for incidents and warnings for Victoria are available through Facebook and Twitter. Other social media alerts can be accessed here.

VicEmergency

Victorians can now access real-time emergency information from the new VicEmergency website. VicEmergency is Victoria’s primary website for emergency warnings for fire and flood and provides a single source of information and advice to help people prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.

VicEmergency has a real-time Google Map display with emergency events including fires, floods, storms, power outages, hazardous material incidents and traffic incidents. It also includes important planning and recovery information on fire and flood.

New FireReady app

The new FireReady app is the official Victorian Government app for access to timely, relevant and tailored bushfire warnings and information in Victoria. It puts CFA, Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI) emergency warnings and information at your fingertips.

The new app has been fully updated, using new notifications and mapping technology. The server capacity has also been significantly increased, and the app now functions correctly on newer phones and operating systems (such as iPhone iOS8).

ABC Radio

The ABC is the official emergency broadcaster, and provides the latest advisory information and news for emergencies across Australia. Find the best ABC Radio frequency for your area.

VicRoads

Victorians need to be aware of increased risk on days of Total Fire Ban in bushland, parks, coastal strips and other fire prone areas across the state. This risk extends to outer metropolitan parks and reserves. If you are travelling, visit the VicRoads website for any road closures. In the event of essential travel, please plan ahead:

  • be familiar with all current warnings
  • listen to ABC or local ABC radio stations
  • check the DSE and CFA websites
  • Follow VicRoads on Twitter – @VicRoads
  • contact the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

Vulnerable clients and emergencies – DHS Vulnerable People Policy

We all look forward to the warmer summer weather, but our summer brings with it the risk of heatwave, bushfire, storms and floods.

As people working in community service organisations, we are in a good position  to discuss summer planning with our vulnerable clients. Clients might need help with thinking about their relocation plan or strategies for coping with heatwave. In this video, Carmel Flynn, Director Health and Human Services Emergency Management, discusses the DHS Vulnerable People in Emergencies Policy. More information on the Vulnerable People in Emergencies Policy is also available here.

Recovery

The Victorian Government provides a range of support services and programs to assist families, businesses and farmers affected by emergencies across Victoria. The Emergency Relief and Recovery Victoria website provides a single online source for relief and recovery information. The site contains information about council run relief centres that offer emergency shelter, food and water, first aid and financial assistance. The site also offers practical advice about emotional health and wellbeing, household matters and your personal safety, as well as information about other community recovery services and initiatives.

Local Government

Your local council is responsible for municipal emergency planning and can also provide advice and information – contact your local council’s office for details.

Resources for households

  • The CFA offers a free one-on-one Home Bushfire Advice Service. The service is delivered by CFA Fire Safety Officers who are experts in helping plan and prepare for bushfire
  • Red Cross offers an emergency planning resource, Emergency REDiPlan, that includes four easy steps for people to prepare their households for an emergency, as well as a workbook section to record their household emergency plan
  • Red Cross also offers a planning resource designed specifically for vulnerable people, Bushfires Preparing to leave early

Twitter also has launched a feature allowing emergency services to provide real-time warnings to mobile phones during bushfires and other natural disasters.