The Fire Danger Period will begin at 1am Monday 22 October 2018 in the following municipalities in CFA’s North East Region: Greater Shepparton City Council; Moira Shire Council; and Strathbogie Shire Council.
CFA District 22 Operations Manager Tony Owen said the Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Southern Australia released in early September suggested the fire season in Victoria to start earlier than usual and be more active than normal due to warmer and drier conditions.
Indeed, parts of Victoria have already experienced grass and bushfires and when the Fire Danger Period was introduced in parts of Gippsland on 10 September, it was the earliest date on record.
Monday 22 October 2018 is the earliest date the Fire Danger Period has been introduced in the three municipalities that make up District 22 since at least 1995, and at least three weeks earlier than usual.
“Low winter rainfall across the North East means the grass and bush are dry and the fire potential is further increased by Bureau of Meteorology forecasts that the next three months will be drier and warmer than average,” Tony Owen said.
“Any rainfall we do experience in spring will produce growth, which could very easily become a high fuel load throughout the summer season if not properly managed,” Mr Owen said.
“Reducing fuel loads will ensure that if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold or spreading.
“While CFA and its partner agencies Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management, DELWP and Emergency 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.”
Mr Owen said there was still a short window of opportunity to clean up your property 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 call-outs for brigades. Some of these have resulted in prosecutions,” Mr Owen 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.”
Mr Owen said once the FDP comes into effect, CFA has a zero-tolerance approach to any fires that have started from negligent behaviour.
“Expect any fire you start to be fully investigated by CFA and Victoria Police,” he said.
CFA does issue permits for a certain situations during the FDP. These are mainly for critical industry and other purposes. 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 Fire Danger Period (FDP) fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer. Permits are based on local conditions and take into account are 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 that the latest restrictions will be published on this page 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/