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Bushfire last resort established in Wandong

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WANDONG residents will go into summer with the added safety net of a bushfire place of last resort after Mitchell Shire Council voted to designate the Wandong Plaza car park an emergency gathering point.

A bushfire place of last resort, also known as a neighbourhood safer place, is a location that can provide some protection from direct heat and flame for people with nowhere else to go.

They serve as a clearing that provides separation between people and the fire, but are not a fire-proof structure.

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A council report said the Wandong-Heathcote Junction had ‘consistently expressed’ having a bushfire place of last resort as a priority.

Officers considered several potential sites before selecting the Wandong Plaza car park.

Cr Nathan Clark said it was important for people to remember the site was only to be used as an emergency gathering point in times of dire trouble.

“It’s a place where people go as a last resort if your personal bushfire plan can’t be relied upon anymore,” he said.

“It’s certainly not a first resort or the first place to go to. [It is] for people to go to if there is a fire affecting their neighbourhood, without the need to take a high-risk journey beyond their neighbourhood.

“It eliminates direct exposure to flames from a fire front and reduces radiant heat to survivable levels.”

Cr Annie Goble said establishing bushfire places of last resort was a recommendation of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

“I’m glad to see this happen so many years post-Black Saturday,” she said.

Cr Rhonda Sanderson said council would place a sign with information about the bushfire place of last resort at the car park so people knew what to do in an emergency.

Council also adopted an emergency management policy and framework at last month’s meeting.

The policy means emergency management processes will now become part of the usual business of council, helping council to better plan for, mitigate and respond to emergencies.

“The changes … involve mitigating risk to the community but also focus on minimising the impact of an emergency event on our operations and service delivery in support of the affected communities,” Cr Rob Eldridge said.

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