Plan for fires now

Au­thor­i­ties warn of po­ten­tially harsh dan­ger pe­riod ahead

Euroa Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY WILL MUR­RAY ed­i­

THE Bureau of Me­teor- ol­ogy ( BOM), Strath­bo­gie Shire and CFA have all is­sued warn­ings to res­i­dents to be­gin their prepa­ra­tions for bush­fire sea­son 2017/ 18 be­fore it’s too late.

De­spite the cool and damp con­di­tions the district has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing of late, sum­mer and the bush­fire sea­son will soon be upon us.

Given the pre­dic­tion of good spring grow­ing con­di­tions and ex­pec­ta­tions of a drier than av­er­age end to the year, it’s shap­ing up to be a po­ten­tially early, and nasty one.

The BOM is pre­dict­ing both drier and hot­ter con­di­tions than av­er­age in the com­ing months, a dan­ger­ous com­bi­na­tion when as­sess­ing fire risk.

The four months from May to Au­gust saw be­low av­er­age con­di­tions for most of the state, and while Au­gust has seen some­what bet­ter rain­fall in some ar­eas, this rain­fall has not been suf­fi­cient to com­pen­sate for ear­lier dry con­di­tions.

This year’s be­low av­er­age rain­fall also adds to much longer-term dry­ing trend, with Vic­to­ria ex­pe­ri­enc­ing be­low av­er­age cool sea­son rain­fall in 17 of the past 20 sea­sons.

Such a long and con­sis­tently dry spell is un­prece­dented, and it is this pat­tern of his­tor­i­cal dry­ness that is be­ing blamed for the marked in­crease in fire weather sever­ity in the past decade.

Th­ese fac­tors are lead­ing the BOM to pre­dict that the fire sea­son is likely to com­mence ear­lier than usual and be more ac­tive than nor­mal.

The prospect of good spring fuel growth are adding to the con­cerns of lo­cal CFA brigades, who are en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to not wait for the warmer weather to hit be­fore re­duc­ing the amount of po­ten­tial fire fuel around their home.

All landown­ers and oc­cu­piers are re­quired by law to make their prop­er­ties safe from fire in the lead-up to the 2017-18 fire pe­riod.

Once the warmer weather does ar­rive and warmer winds be­gin to cure the fuel, Euroa CFA Cap­tain Da­mon Rieus­set warned, it may be too late to re­duce their risk of fire.

“We want all res­i­dents to be good com­mu­nity cit­i­zens and en­sure their prop­er­ties don’t put your neigh­bours at risk.

“This means re­mov­ing all flammable rub­bish from yards, and mak­ing sure the grass is kept cut.

“Ru­ral prop­er­ties are strongly en­cour­aged to slash their bound­aries.

“We are also urg­ing res­i­dents to en­sure they have smoke alarms, fit­ted with brand new bat­ter­ies, as fail­ure to act now could mean po­ten­tial dis­as­ter in the event of an emer­gency.”

Res­i­dents need to be aware that is their re­spon­si­bil­ity to make their homes safe and haz­ard-free, with coun­cil con­duct­ing haz­ard in­spec­tions in the lead-up to the warmer months.

Fail­ure to make your prop­erty safe may re­sult in a fine of $1586.

The shire said it recog­nises it has a large pop­u­la­tion of res­i­dents over 65 and are of­fer­ing as­sis­tance to res­i­dents who may strug­gle with check­ing and re­plac­ing smoke alarm bat­ter­ies.

Please con­tact coun­cil if you, a fam­ily mem­ber, or a friend might need such sup­port.

In ad­di­tion to this, each year lo­cal fire brigades is­sue new bat­ter­ies to all res­i­dents in their area.

All enquiries re­gard­ing this can be made to the Strath­bo­gie Shire fire pre­ven­tion of­fi­cer, Ken Ross, who is avail­able on 1800 065 993.

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