A RISE in false alarms over the fire season has stretched resources unnecessarily, central Victorian firefighters say.
Smoke spreading from bushfires in Gippsland, and recent fires in Ballarat and Wedderburn, have prompted a spike in calls to 000.
CFA operations officer Chris Eagle asked people not to be alarmed by the level of smoke and said to check if there were flames before alerting authorities.
“We’ve had a lot of calls recently,” he said.
“If it’s a hazard alert it’s wasting staff and volunteers’ time. If firefighters continue to get calls to that region they might think it’s just another smoke callout. There’s the danger that it could be a ‘boy cried wolf’ syndrome.”
Mr Eagle said the false alarms took limited firefighting resources away from genuine fires.
“The advice we’ve given is, if you’ve seen smoke in the area and it’s fairly widespread in all directions it’s probably smoke that has spread,” he said.
As bushfires continued to rage across the state, parts of central Victoria, particularly between Avoca and Castlemaine, were listed as areas of concern to fire authorities.
Fire services commissioner Craig Lapsley urged Victorians to remain vigilant and warned that the worst of the bushfire season could be yet to come.
Mr Eagle said Bendigo was set to experience another month of severe bushfire conditions but that with grass regrowing, the danger wasn’t as high as at the beginning of summer.
“If you look at February, we’ve still got a fair few weeks of hot, fiery conditions to come.”
CFA community education co-ordinator for the Loddon Mallee region Paul Tangey said people should be aware of fire danger ratings and keep up to date with current conditions via the CFA website or the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.