Fire Watch - Total Fire Ban day January 1, 2014

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UPDATE 1.45PM: CFA crews were called to a bushfire in Heathcote about 1.35pm. The small spot-fire has been contained.

UPDATE 11.15AM: CFA crews are preparing for a change in weather conditions this afternoon.

District 2 duty officer Bruce Quarrier said incident management teams were in place.

"It may not look like your usual Total Fire Ban day but the reason we've still got incident management teams in place is because up in the north they look like still being up in the high 30s," he said.

"We're expecting a weather event of some sort, high winds, later on this afternoon right across the state.

"So we're in the position at the moment where we have incident management teams predominately for fire but later on in the day they'll still be in place for severe weather events.

"We have SES members in our incident management teams just in case it becomes a weather event rather than a fire event."

UPDATE 10.20AM: The grassfire in Kyneton is now listed on the CFA website as controlled.

UPDATE 9.55AM: The CFA is responding to a grassfire in Kyneton. Three units are responding to the grassfire in Burton Avenue.

UPDATE 7.45AM: Today has been declared a day of Total Fire Ban. Keep watch on this page for updates throughout the day.

WHAT DOES A TOTAL FIRE BAN MEAN?

During a Total Fire Ban, subject to exceptions, no fire can be lit in the open air or be allowed to remain alight in the open air between midnight and 11.59pm.

QUESTION: Can I have a barbecue, light a campfire or light a fire for warmth or comfort?

YES: Barbecues that are fixed appliances. Fired by gas or electricity, being permanently fixed structures built of stone, metal, concrete or another non-flammable material designed exclusively for meal preparation. 

Or barbecues that use only gas or electricity, are designed and commercially manufactured exclusively for meal preparation (including portable barbecues), and when alight are placed in a stable position, provided that: A/ the area within a distance of three metres from the outer perimeter of the barbecue is clear of flammable material. B/ you have either a hose connected to a water supply or a vessel with at least 10 litres of water for immediate use. C/ an adult is there at all times when the fire is alight who has the capacity and means to extinguish the fire. D/ The fire is completely extinguished before the adult leaves.

NO: campfires, fires for warmth or personal comfort are banned during Total Fire Ban days. Solid and liquid fuel barbecues and ovens are also banned during Total Fire Ban days.

QUESTION: I run a meal preparation business (eg. catering), or am a community/charitable/fundraising or similar organisation. Can I set up and light a fire to operate a barbecue or a spit at outdoor functions? 

YES: But only if you have a written permit issued by CFA or MFB and you comply with the conditions of that permit. 

A community organisation, a charitable organisation or an organisation involved in fundraising (for example, a school or sporting group involved in fundraising) may apply for permission to light a fire to prepare meals for other people in the course of their business. These permits are issued by – and at the discretion of – local CFA District offices, CFA Headquarters or MFB Zone offices. Municipal Fire Prevention Officers cannot issue these permits.

QUESTION: Can I light a fire in the open air for burning off grass, stubble, weeds, undergrowth or other vegetation? 

NO: All fires in the open air for burning off grass, scrub, stubble or rubbish are banned during Total Fire Ban Days.

Question: Can I drive a vehicle in places where the vehicle will be in contact with crops, grass, stubble, weeds, undergrowth or other vegetation?

YES: But only if the vehicle is fitted with an efficient silencing device (eg. muffler) that takes all of the exhaust from the engine through the silencing device. This should be avoided wherever possible, due to the extreme fire danger posed by dry vegetation and very hot exhaust systems.

Question: Can I use self-propelled farm machinery, tractors, slashers, earth-moving, excavating or roadmaking machines propelled by a heat engine within nine metres of any crops, grass, stubble, weeds, undergrowth or other vegetation?

YES: However, if possible postpone this work as the risk of starting fires is extremely high.

Source: Country Fire Authority

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