The official fire danger period in the City of Greater Bendigo will begin at 1am on Monday, the Country Fire Authority confirmed on Wednesday.
CFA District 2 acting operations manager Trent McKinnon warned of the potential for an above average fire season, despite recent heavy rain and flooding in many parts of the state.
“The rainfall experienced in spring has produced a lot of growth, which could very easily become a high fuel load throughout the summer season if not properly managed,” he said.
“Reducing fuel loads will ensure that if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold or spreading. While CFA does everything it can, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires.”
Mr McKinnon said there was still a short window of opportunity for residents to clean up their property for those who had not already done so, but only on days when it was safe to do so.
“Out of control burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs have been a major headache for brigades,” he said.
“You should avoid burning off when high winds are forecast – not only on the day of your burn but for the days afterwards.
Mr McKinnon said this fire season authorities would be taking a zero tolerance approach to any fires resulting from negligent behaviour.
“Expect any fire you start to be fully investigated by police,” he said.
“Even if you have a permit to use fire over the fire danger period, make sure you read the conditions carefully. Failing to follow just one of those conditions may leave you open to prosecution.”
During the fire danger period fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a municipal fire prevention officer.
For more information on what activities are and are not allowed during the fire danger period visit cfa.vic.gov.au/can or call the 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 $21,600 and/or 12 months imprisonment. Barbecues 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/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/farming – 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/can