A new day for Otway firefighters

February 11, 2021 BY

FFMVic Otway staff with the Mirring Unimog at Gellibrand. Photo: SUPPLIED

SURF COAST residents will discover a whole new appreciation for Aboriginal art when a new look fire truck wrapped in a Tom Day original work arrives on scene to battle a blaze.

Mr Day is a Gunditjmara, Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba man and was commissioned by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to do the artwork for the Gellibrand-based truck.

The artwork is titled ‘Mirring’, which means ‘Country’, and Mr Day says it represents the elements of land, mountain, water, fire, forest and ocean, as well as the scars that exist within the landscape.

“The background colours represent the landscapes with sea country at the bottom flowing into the forest and grasslands country,” Mr Day said.

“Then we see the desert country flowing into the wetlands and into the mountain country.

“The foreground designs represent scars that have been left within the landscape by our old people, serving as reminders but more importantly guides to show places of importance.”

The artwork is printed on a vinyl wrap design, placed around the reflective strips on the truck.

The fire truck is one of four Mercedes-Benz ‘Unimogs’ in the Otway District that provide rapid responses to bushfires and other emergencies and has a water-carrying capacity of 4,000 litres.

It can tow an additional 8,000 litres of water in a trailer.

Art is not the only way in which the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community is working together to battle fires.

The Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy was launched in 2019 and outlines how fire agencies can work in partnership with Traditional Owners to lead cultural fire management on Country in Victoria.

Forest Fire Management Victoria’s (FFMVic) Heritage Specialist, Carlee Hamilton, said the artwork is an eye-catching demonstration of FFMVic’s commitment to partner with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians in managing fire across the landscape.

“As an Aboriginal person and a FFMVic employee, it fills me with pride seeing the Unimog featuring the Mirring artwork and the connection to country it represents, and I look forward to seeing more of these vehicles in the field in the future.”

FFMVic Otway District Manager David Roberts said considering there are a number of Aboriginal employees in the FFMVic team at the Gellibrand depot, it’s fitting that their vehicle is the first in the Otway firefighting fleet to feature this artwork.

“As the Unimog travels across Eastern Maar and Wadawurrung land in the Otway district, the artwork is a demonstration of our commitment to support and empower Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians,” Mr Roberts said.

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