With the end of the Fire Danger Period across most of the state, hundreds of Victorians are expected to undertake private burn-offs over the weekend and fire agencies will also be making the most of calm autumn conditions to conduct fuel reduction burns.
Combined with weather conditions that will prevent smoke from dispersing into the upper atmosphere, it’s predicted that smoke may hang over the city throughout the weekend, particularly overnight Saturday.
If smoky haze does eventuate and you or someone you live with is sensitive to smoke, you should consider closing windows and doors and turning off heating and cooling systems.
FFMVic Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman said planned burns occurring this weekend were a critical part of a statewide fuel management program to reduce bushfire risk.
“The number one priority of FFMVic is to protect life, property and the environment and that is what we will continue to do.
“Three of the burns we are conducting this weekend are crucial to protect Flowerdale, Marysville and other communities in the Murrundindi district that were impacted severely by the 2009 Black Saturday Fires.
“Not going ahead with this burn program while conditions are suitable could see an increased fire risk for this district in future.
“We work closely with the Environment Protection Authority and Bureau of Meteorology to keep the smoke impact as low as practically possible while delivering the required program - it is imperative that we do this planned burning to protect the community and environment from the risk of bushfires.”
CFA Acting Chief Officer Rohan Luke urged Victorians to conduct private burn-offs safely.
“While the Fire Danger Period has ended in most areas, it is still important that residents check the local conditions are safe and appropriate for burning off,” he said.
“With conditions likely to trap smoke in the atmosphere in and around Melbourne this weekend, we encourage people to consider undertaking their burn-offs next week instead.
People should particularly avoid burning green garden waste this weekend as it generates more smoke than dry fuel.
“Any burn-off must be registered, as this ensures that if somebody reports smoke, the incident will be cross-checked with the burn-off register.
“This prevents volunteer firefighters being unnecessarily taken away from workplaces, families and potentially genuine emergencies.”
Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist, Professor Mark Taylor said EPA understands that smoke from planned burns and private burn-offs can cause health concerns, so we are monitoring smoke levels across the state.
“Your nose is an excellent smoke detector. If you can smell smoke, take the necessary precautions to protect your health,” said Professor Taylor.
Detailed information about smoke forecasts, current air quality in your area and actions you can take to protect your health can be found on the EPA AirWatch website epa.vic.gov.au/EPAAirWatch
Keep your burn off safe and legal:
- Check fire restrictions in your area and always register your burn at www.firepermits.vic.gov.au.
- Check and monitor weather conditions – particularly wind.
- To avoid unnecessary calls to emergency services, notify your neighbours beforehand.
- Leave a three-metre fire break, free from flammable materials around the burn.
- Have sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading.
- Never leave a burn-off unattended – stay for its entire duration.
- If your burn-off gets out of control, call ‘000’ immediately.