CFA has declared fire restrictions for Benalla Rural City Council, Mansfield Shire Council, Mount Buller and Mount Stirling Resort Management and Wangaratta Rural City Council from 13 December.
The Fire Danger Period will begin at 01.00am on Monday, 13 December for the following municipalities in CFA’s North East Region:
- Benalla Rural City Council
- Mansfield Shire Council
- Mount Buller and Mount Stirling Resort Management
- Wangaratta Rural City Council
Fire Danger Period restrictions already apply across parts of Victoria’s North West, with further Fire Danger Periods to be introduced across Victoria in the coming weeks in accordance with local conditions.
The Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Victoria released on 25 November identified potential for increased grassfire conditions for the 2021/22 fire season.
Much of Victoria has experienced average to above average rainfall during winter and spring, and this has led to above normal pasture growth across paddocks and roadsides for much of the state, which is likely to increase the grass fire risk throughout the summer period.
Grassland and drier forests including woodlands and heathlands have been assessed as normal, however shorter-duration fires are still likely to occur on hot, dry and windy days.
District 23 Assistant Chief Fire Officer Stewart Kreltszheim reminded Victorians that even an average fire season in this state can still be a bad one.
“Conditions through the last fire season were similar to what we’re expecting this year, and during those months we saw significant grass fires in the north and west of the state,” he said.
“Good spring rain and warm conditions are combining to produce bumper crops in the northern parts of District 23 and grass growth that has not been seen in decades.
“Now as the grass and bush dry out, the warmer weather, increased yield and potential fuel will mean the fire potential is heightened.
“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.”
If people are using fire to clean up around their properties, they should register these at the Fire Permits Website www.firepermits.vic.gov.au, or by calling ESTA on 1800 668 511.
D23 ACFO Kreltszheim said there is still an opportunity to clean up properties if that work hasn’t already been done.
“Out-of-control burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs have already caused unnecessary callouts to brigades,” he said.
“You should also check and monitor weather conditions and not burn off in windy conditions or if high winds are forecast – not only on the day of your burn but for the days afterwards.
“More information about burn-off restrictions specific to your area can be found by consulting your local council.”
D23 ACFO Kreltszheim 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.
Once a Fire Danger Period has been declared in your local government area, fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer. There are very strict conditions attached to these permits and the liability sits with the permit holder to ensure they always act safely.
You can apply for a permit at firepermits.vic.gov.au.
Fire Danger Periods are based on local conditions and take into account fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall. More information and restrictions are published at https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/fire-danger-period-restrictions. 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 at firepermits.vic.gov.au or with the ESTA 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. You can apply for a permit at firepermits.vic.gov.au.
- 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/