Don’t wait to act, warns CFA

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More than half of all Victorians living in areas at high risk of bushfire believe they will definitely get an official warning if threatened by a bushfire, a CFA survey has revealed.


CFA’s Bushfire Community Survey, undertaken annually since 2009-10, also showed more than a third (36%) expected they would be told when to leave if threatened by a bushfire, meaning many Victorians could be leaving it too late to act.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said while emergency services are well prepared and Victoria has an effective integrated warning system, including the VicEmergency app and emergency broadcasters, there may be some circumstances when Victorians may not get a warning.

“Fires can spread within minutes. On hot, dry and windy days fires can start quickly and threaten lives and homes. You need to be prepared and paying attention to the weather conditions ahead of time. The community needs to know their triggers and use their senses such as sight and smell as well as their common sense to enact their fire plan,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.

“Grassfires are prevalent this season and can move at speeds of up to 25km per hour and jump highways.”

While this year’s fire season outlook indicates a lower risk of prolonged bushfires, grass fires remain a high risk across the state after strong rainfall and fuel growth during spring and summer.

“Do not drive into or through high risk areas on hot, dry, windy days. Plan an alternate route or delay your travel, if possible. Those living in or visiting regional Victoria should monitor conditions every day and have a bushfire safety plan in place,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.

The survey also showed nearly one in five (17%) believe they will definitely get help from CFA if impacted by bushfire, while more than a third (35%) believe they are likely to.

“CFA’s mission is to save lives and property and of course we will do everything we can to respond to everyone who needs us, but there are times during major bushfires when we simply can't get a truck to every house,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.

“People need a plan – exactly what are you going to do for your family, loved ones, pets and other animals if a fire occurs and a fire truck may not be able to get there? If you have a plan, you can act to survive.”

Victorians should know where to find the best information to stay safe and never rely on just one source of information.

Victoria’s integrated warning system includes the Vic Emergency website, app and social media channels, VicEmergency Hotline 1800 226 226, emergency broadcasters including ABC radio, Sky News TV, commercial radio and select community radio stations.

Warnings are issued when an incident is occurring, and you need to act. Make sure you understand the three levels of warnings and additional messages such as ‘Evacuate Now’:

  • Advice – An incident is occurring or has occurred. Access information and monitor conditions.
  • Warning (Watch & Act) – An emergency is developing nearby. Conditions are changing and you need to act now to protect yourself and your family.
  • Emergency Warning – You are in imminent danger and need to act now.
  • Evacuation – An evacuation is recommended or procedures are in place to evacuate.


  • Member News imageMake a bushfire plan with your family - and keep updating it as circumstances change such as school and work resuming after the school holidays.
  • Member News image Prepare your property and keep maintaining it throughout the fire season.
  • Member News image Decide what Fire Danger Rating is your trigger to leave and be prepared to Leave Early - that means leaving the night before or early morning of the day.
Submitted by CFA Media