The CFA have warned the Fire Danger Period will begin at 1am on Monday, October 28 in the following municipalities in CFA’s North East Region:
Moira Shire Council (District 22)
Greater Shepparton City Council (District 22)
Strathbogie Shire Council (District 22)
Benalla Rural City Council (District 23)
Mansfield Shire Council (District 23)
Wangaratta Rural City Council (District 23)
Mt Buller and Mt Stirling Resort Management Board (District 23)
The Fire Danger period will end in all six municipalities and the resort management board area on May 1 2020, unless otherwise stated.
The Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Southern Australia released in late August identified potential for above normal bushfire activity across the coastal and foothill forests of East Gippsland, and the risk that ash forests in the central highlands and Otways may dry out faster and become more flammable than normal during summer.
Across the rest of Victoria, normal bushfire activity is expected, but CFA reminds Victorians that even an average fire season in the state can be a bad one.
CFA District 22 Operations Manager Tony Owen said low winter rainfall across the Goulburn means the grass and bush are dry.
“The fire potential is further increased by Bureau of Meteorology forecasts that the next three months will be drier and warmer than average,” Mr Owen said.
“What little rain we have had has given good grass growth on roadsides and unmanaged areas, so we have good fuels in place with the potential of a busy grass fire season, couple that with very dry bush areas and we are looking at a very busy and hazardous fire season for firefighters and our emergency management partners.”
District 23 Operations Commander and Fire Investigator Trevor Ebbels added that below average autumn and winter rainfall has also significantly impacted forested areas.
“We’ve had a couple of instances where fires have commenced to run in locations where there had been snow cover for a couple of months. This is indicative of how dry the soils and vegetation are,” he said.
“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 and Mr Ebbels urged North East residents to use the short window of opportunity to clean up their property if they haven’t already done so.
“Act now! Help mitigate the risk of fire in our community; reducing fuel loads now will ensure that if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold or spreading,” Mr Owen said.
“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 burnoffs have already caused unnecessary call-outs to for brigades.
“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 Ebbels said that 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 situation during the FDP. 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.
FDPs are based on local conditions and take into account fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall.
Fire Danger Period information and restrictions are published at cfa.vic.gov.au/warningsrestrictions/restrictions-during-the-fire-danger-period.
Please note that the latest restrictions will be published on the page the Tuesday before they come into force.
Victorians can find out “Can I or Can’t I?” information at cfa.vic.gov.au/warningsrestrictions/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/warningsrestrictions/can/