Published: North Central Review (Kilmore)

EARLY detection technology would expand the work of Victoria’s network of fire spotters, according to member for McEwen Fran Bailey.

Fran said trials now under way in Victoria of digital sensor technology had the potential to enhance the valuable work of fire spotters.

The assessment comes after Fran hosted special briefing sessions for local fire fighters and local government representatives in Healesville last week and for members of Parliament in Canberra.

“The Firewatch trials in Victoria and NSW can expand on. the valuable work undertaken every summer by our fire spotters,” Fran said.

“The technology will give spotters access to the cuttingedge equipment, provide 24- hour surveillance and potentially better working conditions for fire spotters.”

Fran said that if the trial were a success, the experience and knowledge of local fire spotters would be needed to monitor information detected by the sensors.

“Local experience could be combined with the latest technology working in safe environments to better protect our communities from the threat of fire.

“Early detection of fire, the ability to assess a developing situation and quickly communicate information to fire-fighting agencies and our communities is one of the major steps we must make if the lessons are to be learnt from Black Saturday.”

The current trial of Firewatch and other early detection technologies follows extensive overseas investigations by Fran, who then secured funding for Australian evaluation from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.