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Hot weather prompts warning
With temperatures expected to reach the 40s in some parts of the state tomorrow, CFA is warning the community, particularly farmers, about the extreme fire risk to the north-west parts of Victoria.
The combination of high temperatures and relatively low humidity means there’s a strong chance that if a fire starts, it could develop quickly. CFA has also declared the first Total Fire Ban (TFB) this season for the Mallee and Wimmera districts starting at midnight tonight.
CFA is warning farmers and harvesting contractors who are cropping or harvesting to be aware of their local conditions, particularly wind speeds, and to be extra vigilant in knowing when to shut down their machinery.
CFA District 2 Operations Manager Mark Gilmore says when you’re out harvesting, the single most important thing you can do is take regular breaks to clear out grass, sticks and seeds that become caught in airflow vents, stone guards and bash plates.
“On top of that don’t forget to regularly look behind you – hot exhausts can easily start fires as can sparks when machinery hits stones,” he says.
Mr Gilmore says not only was it in the vested interests of landholders to minimise the risk of unplanned fires starting, but also a requirement under legislation.
“You don’t want to be in a situation looking at tens of thousands of dollars of loss of assets as well as potential penalties and looking back and wishing things had been different,” he says.
“Extinguishers with the required nine-litre capacity should be fitted to every tractor or self-propelled header, and Harvesters and other large machinery should also be equipped with a shovel.
“If you haven’t done it already, now is also a good time to check that your firefighting equipment is on hand and is in good working order.”
- Make sure headers are checked and cleaned before starting work and repeat this every hour
- Postpone unnecessary or non-essential work
- Make sure they have firefighting equipment on hand and extinguishers fitted to the headers
- Remain vigilant: look behind regularly to check for fires and take regular breaks to check for build-up of flammable materials in the machinery.
- Check for straw of grass build up while harvesting
- When carting hay, have a fire-resistant shield behind the exhaust.
- Double check all spark arrestors
- Avoid driving motorbikes through long, dry grass.
- Leave the angle grinder in the cupboard on bad days
Farmers, contractors and landholders can find fire safety advice and guidelines online at cfa.vic.gov.au/farming or call 1800 240 667 to request a free copy of CFA’s booklet On the Land.
To check the Total Fire Ban restrictions, please visit http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can/