The Eden RFS station was full to the brim on Monday night, as members of the local community and various organisations came together to help develop the area’s new bush fire risk management plan.
The meeting was led by Bega Valley RFS community safety officer Marty Webster and superintendent John Cullen, while representatives of the Eden and Nethercote brigades, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Forestry Corporation of NSW also attended.
Locals were keen to have their say, and placed around a dozen dots on a map of the area to point out potential bush fire hazards.
Mr Webster said that the input of the local community and organisations is invaluable in identifying community assets that may not be included in the current plan, or where the level of risk may have changed.
“It was a very productive meeting, it seemed to generate a lot of interest and a lot of things were identified,” he said.
“When we first started having these meetings years ago, there would be two or three people turning up, so I think this is a healthy sign that we’ve developed a good relationship with the community and they feel comfortable that they can come along and voice their opinion.
“A couple of interesting things that have been brought up are a fuel depot that isn’t currently protected as part of the plan, and the potential impact that a bush fire could have on the oyster industry at Wonboyn.
“We’ll go away now and have a look at all those things, and do an assessment to see what we can put in place to try and mitigate those risks.”
Bush fire risk management plans have a shelf life of five years, which recognises that community assets change, new assets develop, and the level of risk to each asset varies over time.
The bush fire risk management committee will hold seven meetings all up, with meetings also scheduled for the Pambula RFS station on Tuesday night at 6.30pm, and the same time on Wednesday at the Wyndham RFS station.
The end result will be a plan covering the whole Bega Valley Shire, and several smaller plans to cover individual areas.
Mr Webster said he was also encouraged to see members of the community asking questions about developing bush fire survival plans.
“We are staring down the barrel of a bad season, and we encourage everyone to have their own bush fire survival plans as well as helping us with this strategic document.
“Download a bush fire survival plan from the RFS website, or see us at the Bega RFS office for a copy.
“We’re happy to help people work through it, but it’s really got to be an individual plan that takes into account your location and the best course of action for your circumstances.”