BAER Team – Victorian Fires 2009 – The Task and Team

June 7, 2009 by
Filed under: Fire 
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Doug Beckers and the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Emergency BAER Team

During February-March 2009, I was privileged enough to be able to contribute to the Victorian Bushfire emergency as a member of the BEAR Team evaluating bushfire recovery and rehabilitation as part of the Emergency management Team at Alexandra in central Victoria.

BAER Team logo Victoria 2009

What is the BAER Team?

The BAER Team is the Burned Area Emergency Response team. The team is made up of specialists from various disciplines in emergency fire management and recovery and the team is part of the Department of the Interior of the United States Government.

The 2009 BAER team was invited by the Victorian Government to assist with the evaluation of the impacts of the huge wildfires that occurred in Victoria in February and March 2009. Two BAER teams assisted in Victoria and I worked with the team on the Kilmore East-Murrindindi fires based in Alexandra.

What an incredible experience it was working at Alexandra, seeing all the fire devastation and talking with locals about their experiences in the fires. Something I will never forget and has made a lasting impression on my perception of community and fire management.

The Kilmore-Murrindindi BAER Team

BAER Team - Kilmore-Murrindindi Fires 2009

2009 Kilmore-Murrindindi BAER Team. 2009 BAER Team - Victoria Australia. Back row left-right, Margaret Kitchin, John Costenaro, Nora Caplette, Erv Gasser, Gavin Lovell. Front row, left-right, Fred Von Bonin, Lisa Jameson, Chuck James, Judy Hallisey, William (Bill) Sims, Mike Dolan, Richard Easterbrook, Ken Griggs, Richard Pyzik, Doug Beckers

Team members:


Erv Gasser – Team leader (US National Parks Service)

Gavin Lovell – Operations Specialist (Bureau of Land Management)

Nora Caplette – Documentation Specialist (Bureau of Land Management)

Chuck James – Archeologist -(Bureau of Indian Affairs)

Judy Hallisey – Soil and Water specialist (United States Forest Service)

Richard Pyzik – Soil and Water specialist (United States Forest Service)

Bill Sims – Soil and Water specialist (US Bureau of Indian Affairs)

John Costenaro – Soil and Water specialist (DSE Victoria and University of Melbourne)

Ken Griggs РFauna Specialist  (US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Lisa Jameson – Fauna Specialist (US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Doug Beckers – Fauna Specialist (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service)

Mike Dolan – Botanist (US Bureau of Land Management)

Margaret Kitchin – Plant Ecologist (ACT Parks)

Richard Easterbrook – GIS Specialist (US National Parks Service)

Fred Von Bonin – Forestry Specialist – (US Bureau of Indian Affairs)

Team Task

To provide recommendations to the Victorian Government on the emergency stabilization and recovery of the Kilmore East-Murrindindi fire in relation to fire fighting operations, flora, fauna, soil, water, forestry and cultural heritage.

What a huge task given the tight timeframes and size of the fires.

I principally worked with the fauna team which included local experts and fauna specialists from around Australia, and I worked closely with the forestry and flora teams also being a trained plant ecologist.

So what exactly did I do in Victoria? Stay tuned…..

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