Today, Victoria’s final local government areas entered Fire Danger Period (FDP) for the 2020/21 season, meaning fire restrictions are now enforced across the whole state.
CFA urged Victorians not to become complacent this fire season, as the risk of fire for many parts of the state will remain in the coming months.
The final municipalities to move into FDP include the City of Knox, City of Manningham, City of Maroondah and Yarra Ranges Shire, as these areas begin to experience drier conditions.
CFA Chief Officer (CO) Jason Heffernan said these areas have entered FDP later than other parts of the state because drying cycles have been halted by incursions of cooler temperatures and La Niña-associated moisture.
“Heavy fuel loads will persist throughout the summer season if not properly managed,” he said.
“The run of hot days in late January began drying the bush and curing the grassland, which has contributed to increasing the fire potential.”
The latest fire season outlook for Victoria suggests 2020/21 is expected to continue to be more of a grassfire-dominated season due to significant grass growth across the state.
The seasonal outlook also predicts that for parts of the state there will be higher rainfall and cooler temperatures through until early Autumn.
CO Heffernan warned communities to remain prepared for the risk of fire, despite cooler conditions and rainfall this fire season as a result of the La Niña weather pattern.
“General rainfall across parts of the state has slowed grass curing in the short term, but this may result in significant grass growth as the temperatures warm across the state this month” he said.
“In line with the current seasonal outlook, we expect the grassfire-dominated season to continue, with shorter duration fires in grassland and dry forests during hotter and windier days.
“We are urging all Victorians to remain alert and understand the restrictions imposed by Fire Danger Periods, as an average fire season in this state can still be a bad one.”
Some Victorian forests may remain damp enough to experience average to below-average fire activity.
CO Heffernan said CFA has a zero-tolerance approach to any fires caused by negligent behaviour, particularly during FDP.
“While CFA and our partner agencies Fire Rescue Victoria and Forest Fire Management Victoria are prepared to protect Victorians communities this fire season, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires,” he said.
“Expect any escaped or uncontrolled fire you start to be investigated by CFA and Victoria Police.
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 consider fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall.
Fire Danger Period information and restrictions are published at cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/total-fire-bans-and-ratings. 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/total-fire-bans-and-ratings/can-i-or-cant-i or by calling VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226. All burn-offs should be registered online through the Fire Permits Victoria website (firepermits.vic.gov.au) or by calling 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/total-fire-bans-and-ratings/can-i-or-cant-i
- 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/how-to-prepare-your-property/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/total-fire-bans-and-ratings/can-i-or-cant-i