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Know your fire risk on the fringe
Residents living in suburbs on the edge of Melbourne and large regional cities are being urged to understand they’re at risk of fire as part of this year’s Fire Action Week.
As residents of Donnybrook and Epping discovered on February 18 this year, grassfires can threaten homes, and even lives, in the suburbs.
In just a few hours, it burnt 2040 hectares, destroyed a house, nine sheds and a number of farm machines and 3000 hay bales were lost. There was also significant damage to fencing in the area.
CFA Northern and Western Metropolitan Region’s Manager Community Safety David Allen said the incident showed the threat of fire was not limited to regional and rural Victoria.
“Under the right conditions, a fire can cause significant damage in a short amount of time. So many people still think it won’t happen to them, but the grassfire risk is very real in urban interface areas, and residents need to plan accordingly,” he said.
“Anyone living in an urban rural grassland area holds the responsibility of knowing the risks they face and should be preparing now - you need to clear weeds, sticks and leaves, and remove firewood, rubbish and other fuel from around your property.”
Mr Allen said as important as it was to prepare your property, it was just as important to prepare yourself for fire.
“The risk posed by these urban grassfires can be quite different to a bushfire. Often, simply sheltering in your home, or moving one street back from the fire is the safest option. Either way, you need to plan what you’ll do now, ahead of the summer fire season.”
Mr Allen said work was being undertaken to help create safer new housing estates by the design and layout of the subdivision. Fire Prevention Officers had also been working to put in buffer zones around existing risk zones.
“Buffers are created by burning, slashing, ploughing or through stock management and are put in place to protect those living in urban fringe areas, creating space between residential and grassland areas.
“Residents attempting to leave and blocking roads becomes a huge issue for emergency services. Avoid driving in a grassfire because it may be smoky and hard to see, and traffic jams and accidents are likely,” he said.
Mr Allen said residents also need to know where to find vital information about fire emergencies, such as the CFA website, Victorian Bushfire Information Line, the FireReady App and emergency broadcasters such as ABC radio.
Fire Action Week continues all week, culminating in CFA Sunday where hundreds of CFA brigades will open their doors to the public. For more information visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au.
Below is an interview with Operations Manager John Anderson about what people living on Melbourne's urban fringe should do in the event of a fire.