DSE Fire Awareness Awards 2010
As long as the bush remains quintessentially Australian, so too will bushfires. From Ash Wednesday to the painfully recent tragedy of Black Saturday, bushfires have raged throughout our national history in a cycle of destruction, recovery and renewal.
Like the seedlings that emerge from blackened soil, communities levelled by fire learn to grow from dark times. They recover. They rebuild. And they learn a lesson about the ferocity of nature - one that we all, as Australians, have learned to respect.
And city people aren’t immune. Fires in the home, from faulty wiring, cooking appliances and many other causes are equally devastating for the families involved.
What are the Fire Awareness Awards?
Today, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) seek to recognise individuals and groups within our community who, conscious of the disastrous consequences of fire - in the home and in the bush - promote greater awareness in the general public.
Launched in June 2010, the Fire Awareness Awards (new window) acknowledge Victorians of all ages in 15 distinct categories, as well as handing out grants of up to $10,000.
Awarded annually for more than 17 years, the program recognises existing fire safety projects, as well as encouraging new areas of innovation.
Declaring nominations open for this year's awards, the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change said the program offered a "unique opportunity" for Victoria to thank the individuals and organisations who have dedicated their time for the communal safety of our state.
Who can apply?
When you think fire safety, it's easy to picture fearless firefighters battling blazes in the remote Victorian high country. But the Fire Awareness Awards aren't about trained professionals and volunteers - they're about everyday people.
"The Fire Awareness Awards are not only about the prevention or recovery from bushfire, they're also a way to recognise and reward people involved in fire safety projects in towns and cities and in people's homes," said the Victorian Emergency Services Minister.
There are eight Community Award categories, including:
- Community Preparedness - for positive actions taken by community groups or individuals to improve bushfire preparedness
- Volunteers - for projects by individual volunteers or volunteer groups
- Individual Achievement - for outstanding personal contribution to a fire project
- Recovery - for projects that help people or the environment to recover from fire
- Multicultural - for projects supporting the needs of multicultural communities
- Youth - for projects that support the needs of youth and/or children
- Aged/Disability - for projects that support the needs of the aged or disabled
- Other - for any other fire projects undertaken by individuals or community groups
Awards are also given in additional categories, including:
- Education Award - for an innovative project that educates students or the wider community about fire
- Fire Services Award - for projects run by fire service staff
- Media Award - for a media agency or journalist who has increased awareness of fire in the community through responsible reporting
- Industry Award - for industries or organisations that have produced a fire product, service, workplace strategy or innovation
- Design/Construction Award - for an innovative industrial design or construction fire project
- New & Emerging Technologies - for groups or individuals who use new and emerging technologies for fire awareness
- Government and Municipal Award - for innovative fire projects by government agencies (excluding fire agencies)
There's also the RACV Insurance Award for Excellence, presented to the most outstanding fire project from the above categories.
Even if the closest thing to a fire disaster you've encountered recently is an aging bunsen burner in science class, you could still be a contender for a Fire Awareness Award.
In 2009, four students at Maffra Secondary College won the Education Award for a simple and workable idea to teach young Victorians how to deal with fire. Amy Foster, Jessica Bedggood, Tim Liddell and Sam Montague produced the Teenagers in Emergencies booklet (editor's note - check out roving reporter Rebecca's interview with the Teenagers in Emergencies authors), which gave straightforward strategies for responding to fire. They also ran workshops at their school on basic bushfire and flood safety response skills.
DSE's Manager Community Engagement & Education, Maryanne Martin, agrees that the awards are especially important for young people who may find themselves in a tight spot.
"Young Victorians are a really important target audience for the Fire Awareness Awards. Young people are often the ones home, while parents are out working, who need to make decisions in the face of an emergency," she says.
According to Maryanne, this year's Fire Awareness Awards will also include a special youth category to acknowledge the great work being done by young Victorians on fire safety across the state.
"Whether it is an encroaching bushfire or a house fire already impacting, young people need to know how to make the best decisions for their own safety."
Tell me more!
Applications for the 2010 Fire Awareness Awards close at 4.00pm on 20 August, 2010. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony held at the RACV Club in Melbourne on 27 October.
For further information about how to apply or how to nominate someone check out www.fireawarenessawards.com.au (new window), or for answers to any other queries you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 9412 4465.
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