Living in Eurobodalla: Bushfire ready

While anything might happen in the coming few months, we all remember the bushfires of 2019/20 and so preparation is key – both for Council and for the community.

During those fires immense strain was put on Eurobodalla. Nearly 80 per cent of the Council area was burned and over 2,000 buildings, including 500 homes, were destroyed.

The highway was cut and the community isolated for long periods. Utilities like power and communications were also lost.

Since this disaster Council has been determined to learn the lessons of that terrible summer. Community groups have also lobbied intensively on bushfire preparedness and actions such as the establishment of heat and bushfire refuge centres.

Eurobodalla Council takes the issue of bushfire preparation very seriously, however there are statutory limitations to what Council is allowed to do.

Our local emergency management officer is a member of the regional emergency management team that comprises police, SES, RFS and other emergency services.

That group determines the response to emergencies. It is important to remember that in times of crisis Council is not the decision-making authority for emergency responses and decisions such as the location of evacuation shelters – that will depend on the location and nature of the incident and is determined by the lead agency.

During disasters such as the 2019/20 fires Council is required to follow instructions from the responsible state agencies. Council is also instructed by the state agencies in terms of hazard reduction in particular areas.

In addition to on-the-ground works, Council has also vigorously advocated for numerous actions and responses including:

  • Achieved upgrades and ongoing maintenance of the Mount Wanderer telecommunications tower
  • A dedicated local emergency services precinct in Moruya, currently in progress
  • A higher standard of construction and asset protection zones for new developments to be more resistant to fire
  • Extra funding for the Rural Fire Service so they can better educate the public
  • Giving property owners more ability to establish larger asset protection zones with less red tape
  • Increased management of fuel loads by National Parks and State Forests including increased use of Indigenous fire management
  • Introduction of responsive funding arrangements to cover government agency staff in emergencies
  • Review arrangements for evacuation centres to enable quicker mobilisation and better management by state agencies
  • Funding for critical infrastructure to make it more resilient in emergencies – telecommunications, power supplies, the arterial road network; water and sewer; hospitals and schools
  • Requiring businesses such as food retailers, service stations and aged-care providers to ensure they are able to continue operating, particularly with regard to alternate power in preparedness for power failures.

As summer approaches it is also time ensure that every Eurobodalla landholder reviews their own bushfire readiness. We urge you to check out the RFS website – most importantly their Bushfire Survival Plan – to ready your own property in case of a high fire-risk season

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/Public Release. View in full here.