The Fire Danger Period will apply only to these municipalities from October 19. Further Fire Danger Periods will be introduced in other local government areas across Victoria according to local conditions over the next three months.
The Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Victoria released on 31 August identified potential for reduced risk of campaign bushfires in East Gippsland for the 2020/21 season following above average rainfall conditions throughout winter.
Elsewhere across the state, much of Victoria has experienced average to below average rainfall during winter and parts of the Mallee, Wimmera, Far South West have become drier than normal.
Overall, La Nina is expected to deliver above average rainfall throughout spring, which could have an impact on the fire potential across most of Victoria.
However, CFA reminds Victorians not to be complacent as an average fire season in this state can still be a bad one.
CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said the declaration of Victoria’s first fire restrictions in the Mildura, Swan Hill and Yarriambiack municipalities marks the beginning of this year’s fire season.
“Decent winter rainfall across the state has resulted in increased yield and potential fuel load in some parts of the state. However, the grass and bush in the state’s North West are rapidly drying and fire potential is heightened due to warmer weather over the next three months,” A/CO Cook said.
“Any additional rainfall we do experience in spring will produce growth, which could very easily result in an even higher fuel load throughout the summer season if not properly managed.
“Reducing fuel loads in these areas will ensure if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold or spreading.”
“While CFA and our partner agencies Fire Rescue Victoria and Forest Fire Management Victoria are doing everything we can to prepare for the bushfire season, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires.”
A/CO Cook said there was still opportunity to clean up your property in these three municipalities if you haven’t already done so.
“People need to be aware that if using fire to clean up around their properties they need to register these on 1800 668 511. So far this year, out-of-control burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs have already caused unnecessary callouts to brigades,” A/CO Cook said.
“You should not burn off when winds are high or high winds are forecast – not only on the day of your burn but for the days afterwards.
“For information about burn-off restrictions specific to your area, consult your local council.”
A/CO Cook said once the Fire Danger Period (FDP) comes into effect, CFA has a zero-tolerance approach to any fires caused by negligent behaviour.
“Expect any escaped or uncontrolled fire you start to be investigated by CFA and Victoria Police,” he said.
CFA can issue permits for certain circumstances during the FDP. There are very strict conditions attached to these permits and the liability sits with the permit holder to ensure they always act safely.
During the FDP fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer. FDPs are based on local conditions and take into account fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall.
Fire Danger Period information and restrictions are published at cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/restrictions-during-the-fire-danger-period. Please note the latest restrictions will be published on this page by the Tuesday before they come into force.
Victorians can find out “Can I or Can’t I?” information at cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can or by calling VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226. All burn-offs should be registered with the VicFire Burn-off notification line on 1800 668 511.
Fire Danger Period information:
- A written permit is required to burn off grass, undergrowth, weeds or other vegetation during the FDP. This permit may be issued by the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer or the CFA District Office. Please check with your municipality in the first instance.
- Lighting a fire in the open without a permit is an offence and can bring a penalty of over $19,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment. Barbeques and fires for cooking and warmth do not require a permit, but must be lit in properly constructed fireplaces (to view complete conditions visit cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can
- The use of an incinerator, chainsaw/lawn mower, welding/grinding equipment and vehicles that come in contact with vegetation and machinery with an internal combustion/heat engine are permitted provided conditions are followed.
- Farmers can find legal guidelines and practical advice at cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/farms – this information is important especially for new farmers, bush block owners or hobby farmers.
- A Total Fire Ban declaration means no fires can be lit for the declared district for that day unless there is a specific exemption or special permit issued. This applies irrespective of the Fire Restriction status for a given municipality. Further details at cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can/