Photo: Tracey Worsley, Haddon Fire Brigade
The Fire Danger Period (FDP) has now come into effect across all municipalities under CFA Fire Districts in Victoria.
Today, 30 January, fire restrictions will commence in areas of the South East and outer Melbourne, which will bring the entire state under restrictions.
Despite widespread rainfall late-last year, Victorians cannot become complacent about increasing fire risk as vegetation continues to dry out rapidly across the state.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said while the final municipalities to move into fire restrictions have seen a delayed start to the fire season, these areas can expect high fire risk conditions in coming weeks.
“We have already seen many of our crews respond to significant fast-spreading grassfires and we can expect these incidents to become more frequent as we experience warmer and drier conditions throughout February,” he said.
“The run of warmer weather this month has led to the grassland curing across the state, which has contributed to increasing fire potential.”
The latest outlook for Victoria suggested the fire season is expected to be normal, except for parts of central, north east and eastern Victoria where the potential is below normal.
“Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas of the world and even an average season can result in dangerous and damaging fires,” CO Heffernan said.
CFA crews have also responded to a number of illegal burn-offs out of control during the fire danger period so far this season, which serves as a timely reminder for people to make sure they understand what the restrictions mean for them.
“Make sure you know what you can and can’t do during the Fire Danger Period, especially when it comes to barbecues, campfires, chainsaws, farm machinery, welders and other items that present a fire risk.”
To learn more about “Can I or Can’t I?” information, visit the CFA website at www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can or by calling VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.
No burning off is permitted during the FDP without a Permit to Burn, which can be applied for through the Fire Permits Victoria website at www.firepermits.vic.gov.au.
There are very strict conditions attached to these permits and the liability sits with the permit holder to ensure they always act safely.
Some simple actions Victorians living in bushfire risk areas can take to keep their property tidy include moving woodpiles away from your home or shed, pruning tree branches so they don’t overhang the roof or touch walls, clean up your gutters and keep grass shorter than 10cm.
More information and restrictions are published at www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/fire-danger-period-restrictions.
CFA also encourages people to familiarise themselves the new, nationally consistent Fire Danger Rating System.
Victorians can learn more about the new fire danger rating system on the CFA website.
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 $21,800 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/