Local fire crews join the fight

BALLARAT fire crews are helping to battle the Grampians bushfire in more ways than one. 

While 53 Ballarat City Fire senior station officers and volunteers have been working on the frontline, more than a dozen volunteers in the Country Fire Authority (CFA) District 15 headquarters and Grampians Region headquarters are working behind the scenes.

This weekend, 16 volunteers at the CFA’s Wendouree headquarters  were assisting firefighters from behind the desk. 

District 15 operations officer Alfred Mason said nine tankers had been deployed to the Grampians, with about five firefighters in each. 

Volunteers from Bacchus Marsh, Ballan, Creswick, Eureka, Sebastopol and Buninyong were also sent to the fires. 

“Two command units are also on the scene, which have three firefighters each,” Mr Mason said yesterday.

At the CFA’s Wendouree headquarters, volunteers from the district and regional offices provide support to fire crews on the scene. 

Four volunteers work in the district office and 12 in the regional. 

The regional office also houses different emergency service agencies, which work on bushfire recovery efforts – sometimes even before a bushfire has begun. 

“They will work on recovery efforts in Ballarat before there is a fire,” Mr Mason said. 

“This will happen on a high fire danger day.” 

Ballarat City Fire Station duty officer Neville Collins said a couple of senior station officers were working as liaison officers with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB). 

“It’s more of a liaison role between strike teams.

“They need someone with them to know the language we use,” Mr Collins said. 

SES crews in the mid-west district were also assisting fire crews in the Grampians. 

Regional duty officer Gavin Kelly said additional SES help was provided over the weekend. 

“Crews from Ballarat onward, in Stawell, Horsham and St Arnaud were helping out,” Mr Kelly said. 

About 27 people were assisting on Saturday and yesterday four volunteers were sent to the fires. 

“We’re helping the CFA transport crews to and from different places,” Mr Kelly said. 

Police and VicRoads were responsible for road closures in fire-affected areas. 

kara.irving@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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