Father of two identified as firefighter who died in Victoria

A father of two has been identified as the firefighter who died in Victoria.

Bill Slade, 60, died while fighting bushfires in Omeo in Victoria’s East Gippsland region on Saturday and was attached to the Forest Fire Management.

Mr Slade was a long-serving member of the organisation, having served for 40 years and was struck by a tree on Saturday.

Bill Slade, 60, died while battling a bushfire in East Gippsland. Source: DELWP Gippsland

He is survived by wife Carol, daughter Steph and son Ethan.

“Bill was a much loved colleague, friend and member of the Wonthaggi community,” Matt Jackson, the chief executive of Parks Victoria, said at the press conference.

“He will be sorely missed by Parks Victoria and our thoughts are with his family.”

Mr Jackson said Mr Slade had dedicated 40 years “firefighting and caring for national parks” in the Gippsland region.

“I recently had the privilege of presenting him with his 40-service recognition, which was an honour,” Mr Jackson continued, adding Mr Slade acted as a mentor within the organisation and at 60 years old he was not only one of the most-experienced firefighters, but one of the fittest.

A bushfire near Bairnsdale in Victoria's East Gippsland region last month. Source: AAP

“This is a significant loss for the Forest Fire Management family, and the Victorian community as a whole,” Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman said during a press conference.

Mr Hardman confirmed Mr Slade was struck by a tree while working with a taskforce in the bushfire-ravaged area.

“Working on the fire grounds in a forest environment is a dynamic, high-risk environment and it carries with it significant risk,” Mr Hardman said.

The Forest Fire Management firefighters have been working alongside the state’s Country Fire Authority throughout the bushfire season.

“It’s been a really difficult and challenging experience for everybody,” Mr Hardman said.

He went on to acknowledge while the Forest Fire Management firies may not as visible as other authorities, they were working “day in, day out” endeavouring to protect the community.

“These men and women do extraordinary work to protect our communities and our environment and often working out of sight of anyone,” Mr Hardman said.

He said Forest Fire Management would offer and provide support to Mr Slade’s family, his colleagues and his friends.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morison both offered condolences to Mr Slade's family on Sunday.

"He was much loved, an absolute mentor to many many people and we send our best wishes to Carol and his two kids, his broader family, friends, and his Forest Fire Management Victoria family," Mr Andrew said.

His death shows the fires remain a dangerous environment, he said.

Mr Slade’s death takes Victoria’s bushfire crisis death toll to four.

Mat Kavanagh, a 43-year-old Forest Fire Management worker was killed when his vehicle crashed on January 3, on the Goulburn Valley Highway.

On New Year’s Day it was confirmed, Mick Roberts and Fred Becker were killed in fires at East Gippsland.

Upcoming days of reprieve for firefighters

Victorian fire authorities were anticipating a day of reprieve on Saturday as fire conditions eased across the state, with milder conditions forecast for the next few days.

Omeo experienced a top of 22 degrees on Saturday.

There are currently no weather warnings issued for Victoria and for the rest of Sunday, the state can expect light isolated showers in the south and a cool mild afternoon, while the north can expect dry and sunny conditions, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

An emergency warning has remained constant for a fire near Mount Buffalo and Emergency Management Victoria Commissioner Andrew Crisp said it's strongly suggested people leave toward Porepunkah.

"Even though we've got fairly benign weather conditions, this is yet another reminder where we've got fairly fairly active fire out there that people need to stay across conditions in their local area," Mr Crisp said.

On Saturday, flash flooding was anticipated in Victoria – bringing much needed relief and fresh complications for firefighters.

Jonathan Howe, from the Bureau Of Meteorology, previously said parts of Victoria and NSW could expect between 5 to 10mm of rain in most areas, which isn’t enough to end the bushfire crisis.

Mr Howe also said the damage caused by the bushfires added to the risk of flooding when the rain does come.

"With the little bit of rainfall, it can make access to the fire sites more difficult for firefighters – it is a bit of a double-edged sword," he said.

"I think we need to be really clear unless we get really significant rains... 100-150mm of rain, we're going to be in this for the long haul,” Mr Hardman said on Sunday.

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