Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Members statements

Ash Wednesday commemoration

Ash Wednesday commemoration

Emma VULIN (Pakenham) (10:00): Thursday 16 February marked 40 years since the devastating and tragic 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. An estimated 16,000 firefighters would find themselves battling over 180 fires in South Australia and Victoria. Of the 75 people who perished in those fires, 47 Victorians lost their lives that day, including 14 firefighters. I offer those firefighters who paid the ultimate sacrifice by performing so bravely in the line of duty my sincere thanks. May they rest in peace and never be forgotten. My brigade, the Upper Beaconsfield fire brigade, was fighting that day too. Tragically, 12 firefighters who came from the Narre Warren and Panton Hill brigades lost their lives on that day, along with nine residents from Upper Beaconsfield. 186 homes were also lost in the blaze. As a volunteer firefighter myself, I know the toll bushfires take on those fighting them, their families and the entire community.

On Saturday 12 February I attended the state commemorative service for the 40th anniversary at the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre in Cockatoo. Thank you to Graham Simpson and the CFA for arranging this event. The day was very difficult for many. It brought back the pain that so many still feel to this day.

On Thursday last week I attended a memorial service in Upper Beaconsfield and attended the firestorm exhibition at the Upper Beaconsfield community hall. The local brigade did an amazing job pulling together photos, artefacts and stories from our community that had not yet seen the light of day.