Safeguarding your home during bushfire season

With summer now upon us, CFA is urging Victorians to know the difference between Fire Danger Ratings (FDR) and Total Fire Bans (TFB).

 Fire Danger Ratings help residents and visitors to Victoria to know how a fire would behave if one were to start, unlike a Total Fire Ban which is a legal declaration to cease activities which may cause a fire.

Fire Danger Ratings are a trigger to act. They indicate how easily a fire can start, how intense it could burn, how difficult it will be to put out and how much damage it could cause. The higher the Fire Danger Rating, the greater risk to control the fire, therefore increasing the risk to lives and property. 

The ratings are all about safeguarding your own personal safety and the safety of your family, which is paramount. Everyone who lives or visits high risk areas in summer should visit to check the Fire Danger Rating for their area every day. 

They also tell people when conditions are dangerous enough to enact their Bushfire Survival Plan.

Ratings are forecast using Bureau of Meteorology data for up to four days in advance, based on weather and other environmental conditions such as fuel loads.

Total Fire Bans are legal restrictions designed to prevent fires from starting. Strict penalties apply and breaches are referred to police.

A Severe, Extreme or Code Red Fire Danger Rating, on the other hand, should act as a trigger to leave early. The FDR system, which includes six ratings from low/moderate to Code Red, helps you to know when the conditions are dangerous enough to prompt you to leave early. 

Leaving early before a fire has even started is the only way to guarantee your family’s safety on a bad day.   

Your plan needs to cover what you will do and where and when you will go well before there are any signs of fire.

Most people in high-risk bushfire areas know that a Code Red rating means they should leave that morning or the night before. 

But not as many of us are aware that leaving early on Severe or Extreme days should also be a serious consideration, particularly if your house is not well-prepared or if you have children in your care. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, as different areas of Victoria have different risk profiles. If you’re not sure I’d strongly recommend you to talk to your local brigade or book a free CFA assessment.

Bans and Ratings – in a nutshell:

● Total Fire Bans are legal restrictions on open fires, equipment and barbecues. They limit activities that have potential to start a fire in hot, dry or windy conditions. 

● Fire Danger Ratings help you to know when conditions are dangerous enough to enact your bushfire plan. That might mean leaving the area early the night before or early in the morning of a bad day.

To find out more visit or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

Euan Ferguson

CFA chief officer


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