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Melbourne Water firefighters help protect Victorian communities

As bushfires raged across Victoria this summer, crews from Melbourne Water worked alongside the community to bring the blazes under control.

More than a million hectares burnt across the state during the 2019-20 bushfire season, killing five people and destroying hundreds of homes. 

Melbourne Water General Manager Asset Management Services Tim Wood said about 80 of the utility’s firefighters spent more than 10,000 hours working with the Country Fire Authority and local volunteers.

“Melbourne Water’s fire crews are very professional and highly regarded,” he said.

“They have worked incredibly hard and can be proud of their achievements in supporting threatened communities throughout this very challenging time.”

The utility hires and trains firefighters each summer to help protect 156,000 hectares of catchments. They act as first responders to bushfires and undertake land management activities to help slow or stop fires before they start.

Melbourne Water's firefighters outside the Dargo Hotel in the North East Alpine area of Victoria, after a day of battling blazes. Image: Melbourne Water

As well as its firefighting efforts, Melbourne Water also provided technical expertise to other utilities including East Gippsland Water as they worked through the issues associated with the bushfires.

East Gippsland Water services communities in the far east of Victoria, including the town of Mallacoota, images of which were beamed around the world after residents and tourists were forced to take shelter on a beach as the town burned. 

The utility had to issue a boil water alert for Mallacoota as the water treatment plant couldn’t keep up with increased demand on the plant from firefighting.

“We have received glowing feedback relating to the value our teams brought to the firefighting campaign from other authorities,” Wood said.

“To all who have been involved, you should be proud of the work you’ve done for those communities impacted.”