CFA has praised Victorians for registering their burn-offs as thousands more have taken the opportunity to clean up their properties this winter compared to last year.
Six thousand more burn-offs were registered with ESTA between the start of May and the end of August, fresh data shows.
CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said it was great news to see so many Victorians doing the right thing.
“Registering your burn-off is important as it means CFA volunteer firefighters are not called out unnecessarily when someone reports smoke, as any reports are cross-referenced with ESTA’s register,” he said.
“We’re not sure if there are more burn-offs, or simply more people doing the right thing but with almost 57,000 registered through winter compared to almost 51,000 last year think it’s a combination of both.
“More people are spending more time at home at the moment and if that means they are choosing to spend more time to clean up their properties before the bushfire season, that’s a good thing.”
Acting Chief Officer Cook said welcome rain in many parts of Victoria over the winter months meant a slight delay to the start of the fire season compared to recent years when the fire danger period started in early September in East Gippsland.
However, the fire danger period is fast approaching across Victoria, after which the window to conduct burn-offs without a permit closes.
“The best way to defend your homes is to prepare before the fire danger period begins. This includes cleaning up your gardens, your gutters and removing flammable waste from your yards,” Acting Chief Officer Cook said.
“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.”
The recent Australian seasonal bushfire outlook identified recent rains have led to a reduced risk of prolonged fire activity throughout spring, although shorter duration fires in grasslands, drier forests and woodlands are still likely to occur across the state.
Mr Cook reminded Victorians that even an average fire season in the state can be a bad one.
“Residents who want to conduct burn-offs on their private properties need to follow some basic rules such as checking the weather conditions, monitoring the wind, and following local council laws and regulations.”
“It is important that as well as registering your burn-offs, you notify your neighbours that they may see smoke as false alarms take CFA firefighters away from real emergencies which can be very frustrating for our crews.”
By registering burn-offs, any reports of smoke or fire will be cross-checked with the burn-off register to avoid unnecessary response of fire services.
Landowners can register their burn-off with the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) by calling 1800 668 511 or emailing email@example.com,.
Mr Cook said that when registering a burn-off by phone or email, people would be asked for basic information such as location, date, start and finish times, and what they intend to burn. “The burn-off line is very easy to use – the operators are friendly, and prompt you by asking the key questions,” he said.
“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
For more information about preparing your property, go to cfa.vic.gov.au/prepare