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Community Fireguard is a bushfire safety program designed to reduce the loss of lives and homes in bushfires.  The program helps residents to plan for the threat of a bushfire and to manage their own fire risk.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) cannot provide every person and home with individual protection during a major bushfire and recognises that many people may have to face a fire without the support of CFA.  Most bushfires are survivable if people take responsibility for their fire safety and prepare themselves for the event of a bushfire in their area.

Community Fireguard assists community groups to develop bushfire survival strategies that suit their lifestyle, environment and values.

Any local community can establish a Community Fireguard Group (CFG).  The CFA will provide a facilitated information program and ongoing support to assist anyone wishing to establish a Community Fireguard Group.  To get started, a meeting is generally held in a resident’s home with neighbours invited to attend.

You can find out more on the program at this section of the CFA web site .

Our Community Fireguard... 

There are some fourteen Community Fireguard Groups established in Panton Hill and half a dozen in Smiths Gully. Their size varies and membership may change over time. Apart from meeting within themselves, they occasionally come together to share ideas.

If you are interested in starting a group in the area, or possibly joining an existing one,  please contact Bernie Broom on 9710 1374 or send an This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Did You Know... 

Following is some history on the origin of Community Fireguard and its establishment after the tragic events of Ash Wednesday.  The following information, written by our esteemed colleague Nan Oates, provides for very interesting reading:

Ash Wednesday and the Community Fireguard Program

February 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Ash Wednesday 16th February 1983.  It is also the 20th anniversary of the launch of CFA’s Community Fireguard Program.

The fires of Ash Wednesday initiated the most thorough investigations and research into why these were so severe and destructive.  In Victoria 47 people died (including 12 firefighters) and some 2089 homes destroyed.  For the first time scientists from the CSIRO inspected every building that was destroyed to ascertain why some homes were destroyed, and others next door were not.

The results of this research revealed that buildings were destroyed in three ways, direct flame attack, radiant heat or from flying and burning embers.  Around 80 to 90% of building loss was due to ember attack rather than from flames or radiant heat from something burning close by.  No homes were lost where there were three or more people in attendance.

Similarly, the detailed coronial investigations into each of the deaths from Ash Wednesday revealed three main reasons why some people died.  These were:· people who were totally unprepared, those who were prepared but made a poor decision at the last minute and those who were incapable of defending themselves, either through a physical disability or affected by alcohol.  It was also found that the majority of deaths and house loss occurred within 15 minutes following the wind change.

As a result of this research the CFA developed the Community Fireguard Program which was modelled on Victoria’s Landcare program, whereby groups of neighbours, having identified mutual problems or issues, got together with the relevant experts, to work as a group.  The experts’ role was to provide the best possible information available at the time, and the neighbours could then work with this knowledge to develop their own strategies to deal with their particular issues.  In this way the landholders had some ownership of how they tackled their issues.

CFA adopted this approach to Community Fireguard whereby groups of neighbours in high fire risk areas could come together as a street or neighbourhood, meet in their own homes with a trained facilitator from CFA.  The lessons from all of the investigations following Ash Wednesday formed the cornerstone of the information.  The residents not only had ownership of what they decided to do, they also were expected to accept responsibility for their own safety, and in this way, have some control over what may happen, rather than wait for someone to come along and tell them what to do, or where to go.

Now 30 years later, nothing really seems to have changed.  The reasons why people died are much the same.  The reasons for building loss are also similar although the analysis of the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 showed a greater loss of houses through direct flame and radiant heat, the proximity of bushland vegetation being a major factor in this.

By Nan Oates


© 2019 Panton Hill CFA Rural Fire Brigade