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By Kath Gannaway

Firefighters from Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) have been honing their skills on the water, and in the bush, at Eildon National Park ahead of the summer fire season.
Staff from Parks Vic, VicForests and CFA took part earlier this month in the Murrindindi fire district multi-agency exercise involving over 70 firefighters from Marysville, Toolangi, Alexandra, Kinglake, Broadford and Lake Eildon.
Senior forest and fire operations officer Tom Goldstraw said the crews went through training exercises ranging from first aid and hazardous tree mapping to radio systems and training on the new Unimog tankers.
FFMVic has 21 of the state-of-the-art, heavy tanker firefighting trucks which have a water carrying capacity of 4000 litres and room for four firefighters in action this summer.
“The Eildon fire boat was also on hand and was used to move firefighters around the lake, to attack mock lightning strikes occurring in areas difficult to access via land,“ Mr Goldstraw said.
Next to human involvement, lightning strikes are a major cause of bushfire with firefighters moving to high-alert once the thunder clouds start rolling in.
A network of fire towers, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft is also part of the FFMVic response.
Mr Goldstraw said the exercise was a great opportunity for fire crews to hone skills and meet each other and work together in preparation for the fire season.
He said property owners also need to be preparing.
“With good rainfall across the district over the last week, now is a good opportunity for residents to ensure their fire plan has been finalised, and to finish any outstanding bushfire preparation for the season ahead.”

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