Deb Sullivan lives in NewQuay and works in emergency management for the North West Metro Region, which encompasses the City of Melbourne.
But recently her job has been overwhelmingly focused on supporting firefighting and community in Gippsland.
“It’s pretty full on at the moment,” she said.
Her multi-agency team – incorporating the Country Fire Authority (CFA), the MFB, Parks Victoria and SES – has been sending big incident management teams to the fireground.
“There might be 50 people in a team, so we have to send day shift ongoing rotations to support the locals,” she said.
Volunteers and professional firefighters from around the state, including the inner city, and even international teams are being sent.
“The locals are quite exhausted; they’ve lost homes and businesses,” she said.
Deb has worked in the role for 40 years, highlighting the level of concern.
“It’s never been this busy at the start of the fire season before. February is usually our hectic month,” she said.
She’s lived in Docklands for five of those years, having moved from Bacchus Marsh with her partner to fulfil a long-term dream of city living.
She said the biggest negative was a loss of opportunities for a family hobby – gardening.
But since moving, becoming active on her owners’ corporation (OC) and eventually the chair, Deb has helped establish a residents’ gardening team similar to the teams she helps form at work.
“I’ve got a vertical garden on my balcony now and herbs in pots, and because I can get involved in the garden here, I love it,” she said.
“It’s not much different to being in a street, it’s just a horizonal street. You get to know people, it’s not like you’re faceless.”
There’s now a team of dedicated gardeners responsible for the building’s multiple ornamental and vegetable gardens.
“We sent an email around and put a few flyers up and that’s how we’ve made a connection of a dozen people. Now we have a daily watering roster and projects being set up in an ongoing way”.