Published: Emily Webb, Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader

THE Shire of Yarra Ranges will be a priority area for state-of-theart bushfire-detection sensors if a federal government trial is deemed a success.

At a community briefing in Healesville hosted by McEwen federal Liberal MP Fran Bailey last Wednesday, members of the CFA and residents of high bushfire-risk areas were told about the bushfire detection sensors being trialled in the Otways.

The sensors can tell the difference between a forest fire, dust, cloud or mist.

Mrs Bailey said she thought the Dandenong Ranges would be an ideal and high-priority location for the technology.

“It is my fervent hope that the government will fund an early technological detection system and obviously that would have to be rolled out in all of the high fire-prone risk areas,” Mrs Bailey said.

“That will be a decision for government and it will be very interesting whether it will be the federal or state governments and whether we have a meeting of minds,” she said.

As reported in Leader last year (August 10, 2009) the Germandesigned system from Fire Watch Australia found support from Mrs Bailey who approached Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to authorise the trial, which began in February and will finish in May.

Mrs Bailey travelled to Europe last year to inspect the technology and state her case to the Prime Minister for the trial.

FireWatch Australia chief executive David Goodrich said the detection sensors that were founded on aerospace technology developed for the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were not a “total solution” for combating bushfires but a “fabulous tool”.

Mr Goodrich said the technology spotted its first fire on March 2 in one of the trial areas.

“The fire was 42km from the tower where the sensors were installed,” Mr Goodrich said.