Victoria University (VU) has donated $5000 to the Victorian State Emergency Services (SES) from money it saved by sending e-cards this Christmas.
The money will help the service -- identified most closely with providing urgent help during floods, storms and road accidents" retrain its 5000 volunteers as support staff for fire-fighters.
Wyndham SES unit controller Laurie Russell and deputy controller Daniel Smith accepted the cheque from VU fire engineer and Black Saturday bushfire survivor, Professor Ian Thomas today at the Wyndham SES headquarters.
Laurie, who helped found the Wyndham SES some 30 years ago and is also a state board director, said SES members are for the first time adding fire awareness to their other training to better assist fire fighters.
"We have always helped with traffic control and logistics management during fire events, but now there will be formal coordination and training between our volunteers and fire authorities," he said.
Professor Thomas is director of VU's Werribee-based Centre for Environmental Safety and Risk Engineering (CESARE), which studies fire safety risk.
He welcomed the additional manpower and resources that will be provided by the SES starting this fire season, but said nothing could replace adequate planning and preparation.
Professor Thomas and his wife successfully defended their Glenburn home, northeast of Kinglake, during Black Saturday when neighbouring properties were destroyed.
He said the best preparation for bushfires is to develop and write out a plan, practice it under the worst conditions imaginable, then improve it. An alternate contingency plan should also be developed using the same procedure, and both should be updated regularly.
VU Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Harman said the University was pleased to donate to the SES for its important and life-saving volunteer work.