While the fire season has been delayed due to weeks of heavy rainfall leading to flooding and high fuel loads, warmer weather is on the horizon and CFA is reminding Victorians to tidy up their properties to prepare for the increasing fire risk.
With the return of a La Niña weather pattern and widespread rainfall, firefighters don’t expect to see the extreme fires of three years ago. However, that doesn’t mean communities can become complacent.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said CFA is preparing for this year’s fire season and is asking all Victorians to do their part by preparing their properties and fire plans.
“There are so many simple actions Victorians can take and repeat to keep their property safe from bush or grassfires,” he said.
“Most of them are basic chores such as clearing your gutters, picking up loose leaves and twigs, pruning tree branches so they aren’t overhanging the roof or touching the walls of your property, or even just keeping your lawn under 10cm tall.
“We know most of the state has experienced normal to above normal rainfall, which will lead to increased vegetation growth, so it’s important to keep maintaining your property into summer.
“It only takes one bad day to have a bad fire season so we need to stay vigilant this spring and summer.”
This is also a timely reminder for families to sit down and make a bushfire survival plan together.
Heather and Ross Clark are leading by example by diligently preparing their property every year ahead of fire season at their Portland home in southwest Victoria.
“We started preparing each year after the devastations of Black Saturday,” Heather said.
“We learned property preparation tips from local CFA members who were conducting pre-season workshops and we’ve been enacting those lessons ever since.
“We mow the lawn, keep the grass green, pick up our branches and clean our gutters to keep our property safe in the event of a bushfire.”
“Spend some time in the coming weeks to work out a plan everyone understands to keep your family safe,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.
“Your plan should include things like which Fire Danger Rating will be your trigger to leave, where you will go, and what route you will take – and it should always consider different scenarios and back-up plans.”
On 1 September a new national Fire Danger Rating system was introduced which is consistent across every state and territory.
The system reduces the number of fire danger levels from six in the previous system, to four: Moderate, High, Extreme and Catastrophic.
Victorians can learn more about these Fire Danger Rating system changes on the CFA website, where they can also find more information about how to make a bushfire survival plan.
Property preparation tips
- Move your winter woodpile away from the house or sheds
- Prune tree branches so they are not overhanging the roof or touching walls
- Clear your gutters
- Keep grass shorter than 10cm
- Remove leaves and twigs from around your property
- Prune back plants and garden beds near doors and windows
- Test any systems that are part of your fire plan such as sprinklers, pumps and generators
- Check that your home and contents insurance is current and includes a level of cover in line with increased building standards and regulations in bushfire risk areas.
- If you are burning off to remove green waste, register your burn-off online at Fire Permits Victoria (https://www.firepermits.vic.gov.au/)
- Make sure your household has a Bushfire Survival Plan.
- Heather and Ross Clark