Declarations of Fire Danger Periods in each Victorian munipality are on the way.
The Country Fire Authorty has declared last week the first municipality to enter the Fire Danger Period this season will be East Gippsland Shire, from September 23.
CFA chief officer Steve Warrington highlighted the need to prepare Victorian properties as the state moves towards a fire season that in some areas will be more severe than normal.
Mr Warrington said once the fire danger period started, the window to conduct burn-offs without a permit was closed.
The CFA’s announcement comes as parts of Queensland and New South Wales battled large bushfires in unprecedented conditions for those states at this time of year.
Mr Warrington said the recent Australian seasonal bushfire outlook identified potential for above normal bushfire activity across East Gippsland, and there was growing risk north of the Great Dividing Range extending into south-east New South Wales.
“It’s now the third year in a row that these areas have experienced less than average rainfall, which means the soil and forest fuels are very dry, there is a lot of dead fuel around and more flammable live vegetation,” Mr Warrington said.
A warm and dry outlook also carries some risk that ash forests in the Central Highlands and Otways might dry out faster and become more flammable than normal during summer.
Across the rest of Victoria, normal bushfire activity is expected, but Mr Warrington reminded Victorians that even an average fire season in the state can be a bad one.
“The best way to defend your homes is to prepare before the fire danger period begins in your area,” he said.
“This includes cleaning up gardens, gutters and removing flammable waste from your yards.
“Many property owners dispose of this waste with a burn-off, but we also recommend people consider alternative methods such as mulching, chipping or taking green waste to a transfer station.
“Residents who wish to conduct burn-offs on their private properties need to follow some basic rules such as checking weather conditions, monitoring the wind, following local council laws and regulations, and registering their burn-off.
“False alarms take CFA crews away from real emergencies and can be very frustrating for our crews, many of whom are volunteers. By registering your burn-off, any reports of smoke or fire will be crosschecked with the burn-off register to avoid unnecessary response of fire services. It’s also a good idea to notify your neighbours that they may see smoke.”
Landowners can register their burn-off with the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority by calling 1800 668 511 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“When conducting burn-offs, remain alert and always have resources on hand to extinguish the fire,” Mr Warrington said.
“Check the weather, winds must be light and temperatures low. Make sure you have sufficient water on hand at all times and fully extinguish the burn once completed. Escaped burn-offs or those not conducted properly will result in you being liable for the consequences.”
For more information about preparing your property and burning off, visit the CFA website.
Prepare for the fire season
Spring is the ideal time for people to clean up around their properties, prepare for summer and help reduce the risk of bushfires this season.
There are several number of ways for people to clean up around the home to ensure properties are prepared:
- Cut grass and keep it under 75mm in height;
- Rake up and remove dry grass, leaves, twigs and loose bark;
- Remove any rubbish or material that is likely to cause, maintain or promote a fire;
- Store flammable liquids well away from the house;
- Keep gutters clean and free of fine fuels;
- Store woodpiles away from the house;
- Clear away noxious weeds, such as gorse and blackberry;
- Store LPG cylinders securely in an upright position and face LPG cylinder vent-pipes away from the house;
- Plan and prepare a bushfire survival plan for your property, family and pets.