Bush Fire Appeal Funds allocated by IWA

14 September, 2020

Further Bush Fire Appeal Funds Donated to Bemm River, VIC

A story of gratitude from an area in Far East Gippsland, Victoria Australia.

Bemm River is a small community with a population of 61 and is located 437km from the City of Melbourne and is 26km from the Princes Highway. It forms part of the Wilderness Coast and abuts the Cape Conran Coastal Park to the West, Croajingalong National Park to the East and State Forrest to its North.

This small community became part of what was named the “Snowy Complex” of fires in 2019-2020.

Dating back to 2011 this “C.F.A.” Country Fire Authority, Volunteer Fire Brigade has committed themselves to being pro-active in the planning and the preparation of their community for an Emergency Event. They battled for six years to be able to create a 50 metre firebreak and a 50 metre understory clearance abutting the most at risk area of fire on the western side of their town. They conducted regular fuel reduction burning and built a Heli-Pad next to the Fire Station back in 2017-18. They instigated and developed a double sided metal sign, Red with a white H indicating the resident was at home on one side and Green with a white A indicating the resident was away on the other. These signs were to be displayed at the front of properties on days of significant danger. With regular community meetings held at the Fire Station they provided the education and the knowledge that was needed for residents to be pro-active, resilient and confident about the protection of their surroundings. A local CFA Emergency Management Team was formed and under the close supervision of this team the Bemm River residents were prepared, and they were also well aware that the chance of outside assistance was minimal to nil.

The importance of communication, listening, supporting and planning helped this community survive the emergency event that occurred this past bush fire season. Over the many years the respect and trust the community has in the leadership of Fire Brigade Captain Russell Pardew was never more evident than during this latest fire emergency. The community recognised his dedication and qualities and he was deservedly awarded one of the most prestigious awards given to a fire fighter “The Australian Fire Service Medal” in this year’s Queens Birthday Honours List.

It is now with the next safety project that Russell Pardew has in mind for his beloved area, where Inner Wheel is becoming a proud part of. For many years the scientific based evidence, relevance and value for the fitting of an External Sprinkler System with pump to Fire Stations in rural areas has been his goal. With donations to our Bush Fire Appeal including a significant amount from Inner Wheel Clubs in Germany, Inner Wheel Australia supported a submission by A62 District Chairman Kate Luxford to assist with funding the installation of these external sprinkler systems to three Rural Fire Stations, these are Bemm River, Goongerah and Wairewa. Inner Wheel Australia allocated $40,000 from the donations to this project and this amount will cover almost all the costs for all three Fire Stations. This sprinkler system will provide personal and asset protection from ember attack to these three most vulnerable communities where their Fire Stations are utilized by many community groups as meeting places, places of reassurance and places where they are encouraged to seek information and companionship. Quotes are now completed for this work and the installation will proceed in the very near future. I look forward to keeping you regularly updated on the progress of this very valuable and possible life saving project.

The communities of Bemm River, Goongerah and Wairewa are now well aware of our wonderful organization “Inner Wheel” and our important International connections.    Going into the future, Inner Wheel can be justifiably proud that they have become an invaluable part of these small communities town protection against Wildfire.

They are so very grateful for the support they have been given.