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.
To complement new fuel breaks on public land, DELWP and DoT will work in partnership to identify, prioritise and conduct fuel management along major arterial roads where road positioning provides strategic advantage for bushfire suppression.
On 7 October 2021 SCRC approved revised wording for this action to reflect the need to set priorities for fuel management along major arterial roads in a more coherent and consistent way.
IGEM’s Phase 1 report noted that roadside fuel management played a key role in the reduction of bushfire risk and in improving access and egress during bushfire response. However, it found that DoT did not consistently apply its own risk assessment and prioritisation guidelines to its roadside fuel management activities.
Proposed framework to identify and prioritise fuel management activities
DoT is responsible for managing Victoria’s 24,000 km arterial road network and recently established a Roadside Fuel Management Working Group with CFA and DELWP to address this action. The working group held its inaugural meeting on 14 July 2022.
The working group aims to develop a framework to identify and prioritise fuel management activities along major arterial roads in order to:
• provide a strategic advantage for firefighting
• reduce bushfire risk
• enable safe access and egress routes before, during and after emergencies.
IGEM will provide an update on this initiative in its next progress report.
Bushfire Fuel Management Strategy
The DoT Bushfire Fuel Management Strategy 2021–24 was approved by its leadership team in October 2021 and supports the delivery of this action.
The strategy sets out priorities for reducing bushfire risk along transport corridors, including the streamlining of bushfire fuel management processes, and includes a three-year action plan to strengthen risk management, governance and interagency coordination processes.
Department of Transport fuel management activities during 2021–22
IGEM’s 2021 progress report noted that DoT delivered 18,973 kms of priority fuel treatment works along the arterial road network in 2020–21, funded by a dedicated Treasurer’s Advance.
In 2021–22 DoT conducted business-as-usual grass slashing activities. These are undertaken for safety reasons, amenity, and line-of-sight clearance – and have the added benefit of fuel reduction. DoT advised that it works to undertake grass slashing at the most beneficial time of year ahead of each fire season.
IGEM’s Phase 1 report noted that budget and resources were key barriers to DoT's fuel management program. IGEM notes that this remains an impediment and that dedicated funding may help DoT plan for and increase the application of mechanical treatments in line with Phase 1 report Recommendation 6.
The progress summary for FSIP1 Action 6.8 provides information on DELWP’s roadside fuel management activities in 2021–22.