Fire dan­ger pe­riod be­gins

Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy up­dates fore­cast and CFA warns of higher risk

Euroa Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By WILL MUR­RAY

THE Fire Dan­ger Pe­riod com­menced on Mon­day in the Strath­bo­gie Shire.

Dur­ing the Fire Dan­ger Pe­riod (FDP) fires can­not be lit in the open air with­out a writ­ten per­mit from CFA or a Mu­nic­i­pal Fire Pre­ven­tion Of­fi­cer.

The FDP is de­cided based on con­di­tions in the lo­cal area; in­clud­ing fuel mois­ture, fuel loads, grass­land cur­ing, weather and rain­fall.

With rain­fall ei­ther the high­est on record or very much above av­er­age through­out the North East be­tween May and Oc­to­ber, and with re­cent warmer and drier weather pro­duc­ing ‘close to ideal grow­ing con­di­tions’ for grass­lands and bush­land un­der­growth, Emer­gency Man­age­ment Vic­to­ria has de­clared the con­di­tions in most of Vic­to­ria ‘above nor­mal’ in terms of their con­ducive­ness to bushfire.

Af­ter pre­dict­ing a cooler, wet­ter sum­mer for much of the past six months, the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy (BOM) has up­dated its fore­cast to a warmer, drier pe­riod to Fe­bru­ary 2017height­en­ing the bushfire risk.

Euroa group of­fi­cer John Furlan­etto urged peo­ple to be vig­i­lant and proac­tive in re­sponse to the fire threat.

“We need peo­ple to be clean­ing up around their prop­er­ties; slash­ing any long grass, clean­ing gut­ters, re­mov­ing any bark and fine fu­els from around their house, and mak­ing them­selves a fire plan,” Mr Furlan­etto said.

“It comes down to per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity and aware­ness about what you can do to pro­tect your home and make the CFA’s job as easy as it can be in such a dan­ger­ous sea­son.”

For those in the slope coun­try; Creightons Creek, Oak Val­ley, Long­wood East, Gooram and Ruffy, Mr Furlan­etto warned there is al­ready an abun­dance of fuel ready to burn, and res­i­dents should be wary of this dan­ger.

“We are ex­pect­ing for the forested ar­eas, and for those in the hills, that fu­els will be dry, and there­fore be a cause of real con­cern, early in the new year,” Mr Furlan­etto warned.

“There is a higher risk across the en­tire Shire of Strath­bo­gie, and so both our crews and the pub­lic need to be ready to deal with it.”

CFA Dis­trict 22 Act­ing Op­er­a­tions Man­ager Tony Owen echoed the calls for proac­tiv­ity when deal­ing with high fire dan­ger, and im­plored lo­cals to not rely solely on the CFA.

“There is still op­por­tu­nity to clean up your prop­erty if you haven’t al­ready done so, and re­duc­ing fuel loads will en­sure that if a fire does break out, it has less chance of tak­ing hold or spread­ing,” he said.

“While CFA does ev­ery­thing it can, we look to the com­mu­nity to use com­mon sense and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for pre­vent­ing fires.

“You should avoid burn­ing off when high winds are fore­cast – not only on the day of your burn but for the days af­ter­wards.”

For in­for­ma­tion about burn-off re­stric­tions and to down­load a fire-plan, head to cfa.vic.gov.au/can . All burn-offs should be reg­is­tered with the VicFire Burn-off no­ti­fi­ca­tion line on 1800 668 511.

Re­mem­ber:

• light­ning 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 cfa.vic.gov.farm­ers, bush block own­ers or hobby farm­ers;

• a To­tal Fire Ban dec­la­ra­tions means no fires can be lit for the de­clared dis­trict for the day un­less there is a spe­cific ex­emp­tion or spe­cial per­mit is­sued. This ap­plies ir­re­spec­tive mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Fur­ther details at cfa.vic.gov.au/can .

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