News & Media

Campbell Brown’s out-of-control burn-off

  • Don't forget safety when carrying out a burn-off

By: CFA News

Category: Community Safety

  5.12 PM 17 March, 2015


Location: General

Views: 4449

Former Gold Coast Suns and Hawthorn footballer Campbell Brown learned the hard way that private burn-offs don’t always go to plan. Watch Campbell talking with Operations Officer Steve Pitcher about his burn off on Foxtel's After the Bounce.

Campell, who played in Hawthorn’s 2008 AFL premiership side, has lived on a property at Hurstbridge for about nine months and admits he’s still learning the country lifestyle – including just how quickly fire can spread. 

A few days before the start of the Fire Danger Period (FDP) in November last year, he carried out a burn-off that spread out of control.

“Three or four days before restrictions came in we decided to do a burn-off in one of the middle paddocks,” said Campbell. “We didn’t have any water supplies on hand but it wasn’t a big pile so we didn’t think it was a worry.”

“A bit of grass caught on fire which then spread to another bit of grass. I ran inside to grab a couple of buckets which took about 30 to 40 seconds, but in that time the fire had really taken off through the grass and got away from me.

“It was just near a road and by this stage a number of people had stopped and gathered ready to help. That included a CFA member who wasted no time in calling in the fire.”

Crews from Hurstbridge and Wattle Glen brigades attended and Campbell was impressed with how professionally the brigades dealt with the situation, describing it as “all in all a great effort”.

The CFA members mentioned at the time that in recent weeks they had been called to a few out-of-control burn-offs, including one where the landowners had lost one-and-a-half hectares.

We asked Campbell what he would do differently given the opportunity again.

“I’d done a few burn-offs successfully in the past, but the grass here was a bit longer and drier than before and I’d say that’s what made the difference,” he said.

“So I should have mowed the area around the burn to create a firebreak and made sure I had enough water – like one of those water spray backpacks.

“And I wouldn’t try to do a burn-off when I was home alone. In fact next time I think I’ll leave it to the missus!”

The official FDP ends in many areas of the state this Monday, which means landowners will be looking to burn off excess vegetation on their properties. FDPs in District 18 have already been revoked.

Thanks to Campbell Brown for sharing this story.

If you are a CFA member talking to people in your community about burn-off safety, here are some quick and simple points to pass on:

Always register your burn-off by calling 1800 668 511 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Be prepared to say what, where and when it will be, how big, and what material you intend to burn.

Keep your burn-off safe and legal:

  •          Never leave it unattended
  •          Monitor weather conditions
  •          Have sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading
  •          Check fire restrictions in your area.
Last Updated: 20 March 2015