The Inspector-General for Emergency Management recommends that the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (or the single entity referenced in Recommendation 4) – supported by other organisations with a legislated responsibility for fuel management – plan for and increase the application of non-burning fuel management treatments including mechanical means.
The annual fuel management report should include the non-burn component of fuel management treatment, track annual change, and provide a comparison to the previous three years.
DELWP will continue to deliver an expanded 365-day per year fuel management program to respond to earlier and longer bushfire seasons and enhance Victoria’s first attack capacity including personnel, plant and equipment.
FFMVic’s Managing Victoria’s bushfire risk: Fuel management report 2020–21 outlines the 365-day approach to fuel management in Victoria’s forests and parks, which involves planned burning and mechanical fuel treatments such as mulching, mowing and slashing. The report is available at ffm.vic.gov.au/fuel-management-report-2020-21
In 2021–22 FFMVic delivered 277 planned burns covering more than 62,000 hectares.
DELWP provided IGEM with evidence that over 15,000 hectares was treated in 2021–22 using mechanical fuel treatment methods such as mulching, mowing, and slashing, including an estimated 1042 hectares in high risk reduction areas near communities.
FFMVic also constructs strategic fuel breaks between bushland and residential areas to reduce the likelihood that fires will endanger homes and other assets (refer to FSIP1 Action 6.5) and also upgrades and maintains the public land road network to support integrated land and bushfire management activities (refer to FSIP1 Action 6.8).
Personnel, plant and equipment
On 6 November 2021 the then Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change confirmed the appointment of an additional 154 Forest and Fire Operations Officers, creating a firefighting workforce of over 1000 ahead of the 2021–22 summer season.
Recent Victorian State Budgets provide investment in equipment and asset maintenance and replacement to support preventative bushfire services and the rapid response to emergency events.