THE Blackwood Community Fire Refuge opened its doors on the weekend as fire services and residents gear up for a hot summer.
Almost 200 people attended the refuge for the community open day.
The refuge is the third to open in the state, following on from East Warburton and Ferny Creek, which opened a week ago.
The refuges are a new concept, and the Blackwood facility is co-located with a new CFA station.
Moorabool Shire mayor Paul Tatchell said he was pleased by the strong number of people who attended.
“We were surprised actually at the number of people that came out,” he said.
“It would be fair to say the people that went through the process were very interested and they realise what it is
The refuge is seen as a last resort for residents whose other plans have failed. It will only be open when a fire is threatening the
It has a remote-opening system and direct contact with the State Control Centre in Melbourne.
Other features including heat shields, a standby power generator and fire protection systems to ensure the refuge can be operated by the community.
Vehicles can not be parked within 15 metres of the refuge due to safety reasons.
Cr Tatchell said Blackwood was a difficult town to get in and out of if a disaster struck, which was part of the importance of the facility.
He also said many families had brought their children along to ensure they understood how to use the facility.
The facility is an initiative of the Victorian government and was recommended by the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission.
Cr Tatchell said it was obvious to anyone who walked through the facility how much effort had gone into it.
“I suppose from our perspective, when they said they were going to do it, we gave them as much support as we could,” he said.
“It is a really vital piece of infrastructure that we hopefully won’t have to use.
“It is more about having it there, that piece of mind, as opposed to whether it ever gets used.”
However, Cr Tatchell said it was important residents did not let the new facility change their approach to being fire ready.
“The last thing we would want is for people to be complacent just because we have one there,” he said.
“It is still not ideal, but if you were stuck and you were there and there was a fire around you, it is better to have it than not have it.”
Acting Minister for Police and Emergency Services Robert Clark said the community open day also gave residents the opportunity to discuss their bushfire survival planning with representatives from emergency services.
“Community involvement has been integral because it is the community who will need to operate the refuge themselves in the event it is activated for use,” he said. “Additionally, the Blackwood CFA fire brigade now has a new three-bay fire station with improved facilities that will serve the brigade and its community well into the