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Report of Operations 2007-08 - Incidents and Total Fire Bans

The 2007-08 summer fire season saw a significant drop in wildfire activity for CFA in comparison with the previous five years. Although initial early season indicators reflected a high probability of an early and active summer wildfire season, weather conditions moderated from November 2007 onwards with a number of significant rain events occurring at critical times over February, March and April 2008, reducing the State-wide grass and forest fire risk for Victoria.

In total 10 TFB days were declared, two of which were whole of State declarations (11 January and 14 March 2008). All TFBs involved the western half of the State and, in particular, the North West TFB District. Table 8 provides details of the TFBs declared in 2007-08. Table 9 provides comparative data for TFBs for the period 2003 to 2008.

'Fire Danger Period' declarations began on 1 November 2007, with all bans concluding by 1 May 2008.

Table 8. Days of Total Fire Ban 2007-08

Date Total Fire Ban District
29 December 2007 North West
31 December 2007 North West; South West; Central
1 January 2008 North West; North East; Central
10 January 2008 North West; South west; Central; North East
11 January 2008 Whole State
10 March 2008 North West; South West; Central
13 March 2008 North West; South West; Central
14 March 2008 Whole of State
15 March 2008 North West
17 March 2008 North West; South West; Central

Table 9. Number of Total Fire Ban Days declared (2003 to 2008)

Fire Season Whole of State Partial
2003-04 2 9
2004-05 0 8
2005-06 2 10
2006-07 9 11
2007-08 2 8

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The reduced summer fire risk provided firefighters, fire line managers, and group, regional and headquarters staff and supporting organisations with welcome relief from the high activity periods experienced over the preceding three years.

A Victorian contingent from CFA and DSE provided strike teams and supporting resources to the South Australia Country Fire Service (CFS) for large scale fire activity on Kangaroo Island from 9-17 December 2007. This support saw strike teams, administrative and liaison personnel, district mechanical officers and equipment, as well as communications personnel deployed in support of the CFS request.

The largest wildfire managed by CFA over the 2007-08 summer season occurred on 10 January and was known as Morrisons Fire. This fire started on private land in Atchisons Road, Mt Doran and quickly spread to adjoining Dollys Creek State Park and burnt an area of 518 hectares. This event involved 48 vehicles and required CFA attendance for seven days.

CFA urban and rural response activity over the summer 2007-08 period remained at usual levels and saw CFA responses for a diverse range of incidents including:

With the weather conditions affecting the farm sector, a large number of cereal farmers took the opportunity to recover some potential financial losses by cutting failing cereal crops for hay. As a result CFA noticed an increasing trend in hay bale and hay shed fires occurring as the summer progressed. This resulted in significant losses in some instances of storage and hay stocks. One facility at Donald suffered a loss of 4,500 bales at an estimated cost of $1.3 million. CFA in conjunction with DPI investigated and informed the rural sector of this emerging trend as the cause was determined to be high moisture levels in the cereal grasses when baled.

Summer activities peaked during two periods, with March 2008 providing a short run of high temperature days with very high to extreme potential, but little increase in fire activity occurring, and, a land gale storm event occurring in April 2008 which resulted in CFA actively supporting VicSES at a number of levels.

In total CFA attended 38,892 incidents in the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 resulting in 71,518 brigade responses. Tables 10, 11 and 12 provide further details of these incidents.

Table 10. Total Number of incidents 2001 to 2008

Incident Type 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08
Fire and explosions 13,946 14,859 13,187 13,028 11,162 16,368 15,497
Motor vehicle accidents, rescue, Emergency medical support calls 3,328 3,387  3,354 3,403  2,909 3,661 3,723
Hazardous condition 2,883  2,750  2,885  3,576  2,965  3,599 2,929
Overpressure rupture 22 35 42 43 36 62 73
Service calls  2,092  2,390 2,433  2,099 2,090  2,698 2,740
Good intent calls  3,880 4,690 4,316  5,190  4,410  5,520 5,283
False alarms/false calls  7,702 7,759  7,468 7,560  5,988 7,482 7,430
Other Situations 150 157 190 160 151 224 184
Incomplete Report 115 218 197 575 6,6772 1,398 789
Undetermined/other 141 231 164 168 242 240 244
Total Primary Incidents 34,259 36,476 34,236 35,802 36,360 41,2523 38,892

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Table 11. Total number of turnouts by CFA brigades 2003 to 2008

  2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08
Primary 34,236 35,802 36,630 41,252 38,892
Support 25,193 26,982 32,538 38,475 32,626
Total 59,429 62,784 69,168  79,727 71,518

Table 12. Summary of Major Incidents 2007-08

Date Incident Type Location CFA appliances Fire Size (hectares) or Cost
23 July 2007 Factory Fire Dandenong 25 $7.8 million
21 August 2007 Structure Fire Rutherglen 14 $1-2 million
8 November 2007 Structure Fire Bayswater 13 Supermarket Warehouse/St Vincent De Paul
Both stores received substantial building damage. Approximately $1 million worth of stock was lost and the building was damaged, resulting in loss of employment.
18 November 2007 Grass Fire Wathe Flora and Fauna Reserve 23 5,000 hectares of public land (80 per cent of the reserve) burnt in Wathe Flora and Fauna Reserve. The reserve is the home to the Mallee Foul – a rare bird species, which is only found in Mallee Scrub areas.
16 December 2007 Structure Fire Donald 8 4,500 bales of fodder at an approximate cost of $800,000 to $1.3 million
10 January 2008 Grass Fire Allestree, approx 10 kms north-east of Portland 23 88.4 hectares
Significant economic impact. Fire caused by high voltage power line failure (pole burnt through dropping wires onto a fence) resulting in loss of power over a wide area of south western Victoria for several hours. Properties involved also lost fodder, fences, a caravan and pastures. Princes Highway closed for several hours.
10 January 2008 Grass Fire Morrisons 48 534 hectares
Significant economic impacts in the saving of 80 ha of pine nursery and gene stock owned by AKD Colac on the western flank. Approximately 100 ha of grassland on private property was lost. Other assets lost included a shed, including contents at the point of origin of the fire – estimated value $90,000; and a weekender shack at Morrisons – estimated value $50,000.
7 February 2008 Marine Incident Geelong 4 MV Jin Hui. Loss of approximately 6–8 tonne of product from a total load of 12,614 tonne. Delays in unloading caused disruption to surface transport and ship berthing arrangements.
13 February 2008 Structure Fire Frankston Oval 10 The grandstand has historical significance in the area. The facility contained dressing and training rooms, etc underneath. Seating capacity of approx 1,000 means spectators will be without seating for approx 6 months.
Estimated value of $2 million.
7 March 2008 Structure Fire Darnum 11 Milk factory explosion and fire.
The incident has cost the company approximately $1 million to reinstate the damaged plant and to process its supplier’s milk offsite for the time the plant was down.
12 March 2008 Factory Fire Swan Hill 10 Factory fire at Tank World.
Damage estimated at $1 million.
20 March 2008 Structure Fire Rosebud 10 DHS owned Peninsula Community Health Centre destroyed. Estimated $2 million damage.
26 March 2008 Structure Fire Greensborough 20 Apollo Parkways Primary School
100m x 50m section of the building was involved.
Approx $2.5 – $3 million for building only.
4 June 2008 Boat Fire Portland 18 Commercial fishing boat fire.
$500,000 damage sustained to vessel

2 The high number of incidents shown as 'Incomplete' in 2005-06 was impacted by industrial bans on reporting.
3 Part of the increase in annual number of incidents in 2006-07 can be attributed to the implementation of Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and EAS paging across the state, which automatically generates a Fire Report for every incident paged. Due to amended reporting conditions on the automatic Fire Reports, this also added a significant proportion of the incidents shown as "Incomplete" in 2006-07.

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