Fire access fears

Brad Battin has raised concerns about a tree which has been deliberately felled at Bobs Park and will hamper a CFA response if a fire breaks-out.

Three trees have been purposely felled at Bobs Park with the intention of stopping visitors from gaining entry and causing damage to the buildings located within.

Though, the trees which block the access road to Bobs Park have also reduced the capacity for CFA units to respond to a fire there.

Earlier this year, in March, Member for Gembrook Brad Battin wrote to the Minister for Environment, Lily D’Ambrosio raising concerns about the state of Bobs Park.

It was only in October that they received a response from the Minister who claimed that it had ‘been taken care of’.

At the Parliament assembly on 17 October, Mr Battin put the onus on the future of the park directly on the Government’s shoulders.

“I rise as we approach another very dangerous fire season, particularly through the Gembrook electorate.”

“If a fire starts in Bobs Park, it puts the entire Dandenong Ranges at risk. Parks Victoria, working with this government, have decided the best way to fix the problem of people going in is to drop a pine tree across the road, which is the only emergency access into Bobs Park.”

“So, the only access we have to the park for fire trucks has now been blocked off by cutting down a huge pine tree, preventing firefighters from going in.”

“If a fire starts in Bobs Park, they can only go in with knapsacks holding minimal amounts of water, as they will not be able to get trucks in due to the incompetence of this government. They (the Government) are putting the entire Dandenong Ranges at risk, and I say to them: if there is a fire through the Dandenong Ranges, it is their fault.”

A Parks Victoria spokesperson rebuffed the comments made by Mr Battin and said that since the trees have been felled there has been no damage to buildings.

“In an effort to halt damage to park assets, rubbish dumping and anti-social behaviour occurring at Bobs Park it was closed in 2008. However people continued to disregard closures, cutting gate locks to gain access.”

“In September 2019 Parks Victoria met with Cardinia Shire and Menzies Creek CFA to discuss how we better restrict access and all parties agreed the preferred method would be to fell three large pine trees across the closed access track to further impede illegal entry.”

“Since the trees have been put in place, no recorded instances of anti-social behaviour have been reported or damage to park assets.”

“Parks Victoria carries out bushfire risk mitigation works at the site including weed control and strategic fuel breaks to reduce risk to communities, wildlife and the environment and in the event of a fire at the site the trees can be removed by bulldozer.”

In a post on the Menzies Creek noticeboard, residents were incensed by the mismanagement of the park.

“CFA has conducted an analysis of the situation and I believe that they have a 10 minute window to control a fire before it wipes out Menzies Creek,” wrote on poster.

“We have had a number of fires deliberately lit over a number of recent years. On top of Parks Victoria negligent attitude, they have recently blocked access into the park by deliberately felling two trees just inside the entrance. This now blocks access to fire trucks and I for one am incensed at this gross negligence.”