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Burn-off window narrows as fire season looms

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CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington has highlighted the need to prepare properties as the state moves towards a fire season that in some areas will be more severe than normal.

Burn-off window narrows as fire season looms

CFA has just announced today that the first municipality to enter the Fire Danger Period this season will be East Gippsland Shire, fire restrictions starting at 01.00am on Monday, 23 September 2019.

Other parts of Victoria will follow in the coming weeks and months. Once the fire danger period starts, the window to conduct burn-offs without a permit is closed.

The announcement of the start of the Fire Danger Period in Victoria’s far east comes as parts of Queensland and New South Wales are battling large bushfires in unprecedented conditions for those states at this time of year.

The recent Australian seasonal bushfire outlook identified potential for above normal bushfire activity across the coastal and foothill forests of East Gippsland, and there’s also a growing risk north of the divide extending into south east New South Wales.

“It’s now the third year in a row that these areas have experienced less than average rainfall, which means the soil and forest fuels are very dry, there is a lot of dead fuel around and more flammable live vegetation,” Mr Warrington said.

A warm and dry outlook also carries some risk that ash forests in the central highlands and Otways may dry out faster and become more flammable than normal during summer. Across the rest of Victoria, normal bushfire activity is expected, but Mr Warrington reminded Victorians that even an average fire season in the state can be a bad one.

“The best way to defend your homes is to prepare before the fire danger period begins in your area,” he said. “This includes cleaning up gardens, gutters and removing flammable waste from your yards.

“Many property owners dispose of this waste with a burn-off, but we also recommend people consider alternative methods such as mulching, chipping or taking green waste to a transfer station.

“Residents who wish to conduct burn-offs on their private properties need to follow some basic rules such as checking weather conditions, monitoring the wind, following local council laws and regulations, and registering their burn-off.

“False alarms take CFA crews away from real emergencies and can be very frustrating for our crews, many of whom are volunteers. By registering your burn-off, any reports of smoke or fire will be cross-checked with the burn-off register to avoid unnecessary response of fire services. It’s also a good idea to notify your neighbours that they may see smoke.”

Landowners can register their burn-off with the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) by calling 1800 668 511 or emailing burnoffs@esta.vic.gov.au

“When conducting burn-offs, remain alert and always have resources on hand to extinguish the fire.

“Check the weather, winds must be light and temperatures low. Make sure you have sufficient water on hand at all times and fully extinguish the burn once completed. Escaped burn-offs or those not conducted properly will result in you being liable for the consequences.”

 Keep your burn-off safe and legal:

  • Check fire restrictions with your local council and register your burn on 1800 668 511.
  • Check and monitor weather conditions – particularly wind.
  • To avoid unnecessary calls to emergency services, notify your neighbours beforehand.
  • Leave a three-metre fire break, free from flammable materials around the burn
  • Have sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading.
  • Never leave a burn-off unattended – stay for its entire duration.
  • If your burn-off gets out of control, call ‘000’ immediately.

 Visit CFA’s website for more information about preparing your property and what you can and can’t do