A HARD-LINE, zero-tolerance approach to illegal and deliberately lit fires will remain a focus for central Victorian emergency services under a new campaign.
Crime Stoppers Victoria will unveil its new You Don't Need A Match To Be An Arsonist campaign in Bendigo today in an effort to highlight the impact arson has and the importance of following rules around lighting fires.
The campaign follows an unprecedented level of bushfire activity across the state including a suspicious grass fire in Bobs Street, White Hills, in December.
"CFA takes a zero-tolerance approach to illegal fires whether they are deliberately lit or recklessly lit, or whether they are on your property or somewhere else," CFA District 2 Operations Manager Bill Johnstone said.
"Staying alert for risky or suspicious behaviour is another way the community can look after each other.
"We wholeheartedly support our colleagues at Victoria Police and Crime Stoppers in asking the community to be our eyes and ears."
Victoria Police Inspector Shane Brundell said police would maintain a hard-line approach to deliberately or recklessly lit fires.
"Deliberately or recklessly lit fires have the potential to cause widespread damage," Inspector Brundell said.
"Now is not the time to be complacent about your behaviour. It is everyone's responsibility to be mindful of their activities during fire danger periods, otherwise your actions could result in the cause of a bushfire.
"If you know of anyone linked to arson or have any information relating to reckless or deliberately lit fires, we urge you to contact Triple-0 in an emergency or make a confidential report to Crime Stoppers."
The Crime Stoppers campaign highlights that people can be charged with arson if a fire sparks from a fire pit or barbecue.
"You may not have meant to start a bushfire, but ignorance of the rules is not an excuse," Crimes Stoppers Victoria chief executive Stella Smith said.
"Everyone needs to ensure they know what they can and can't do during fire danger periods. Vigilance is a shared community responsibility."
People found guilty of recklessly or deliberately causing a bushfire face up to 15 years in jail. Lighting a fire on a Total Fire Ban day can attract a fine of up to $37,000.
Campaign organisers have also created advisory resources in a number of languages including Mandarin, Italian, Vietnamese, Arabic and Karen.
Bendigo Karen community member and Bendigo Community Health Services community guide Nido has lived in the city for five years after leaving Burma in 1997.
Nido works with refugee communities to to build knowledge about health and safety while welcoming new arrivals to the city.
"We value our community and understand how important it is to do the right thing," he said. "The bushfires have been shocking for everyone, and I know that Bendigo is in a fire danger period, so it is extra important to be careful."