CFA sounds alarm

McIvor Times - - NEWS - By LACH­LAN DURLING

FIRE sea­son could start as early as this month ac­cord­ing to fore­casts, and CFA cap­tain Carl Watkins is warn­ing res­i­dents of the dan­gers.

The CFA has is­sued a warn­ing to clean up around homes and to reg­is­ter any burn-offs.

Heath­cote fire bri­gade cap­tain Carl Watkins said with this sea­son’s to­tal fire ban ap­proach­ing, it’s im­por­tant res­i­dents know when they can burn off and how to keep their fires un­der con­trol.

‘‘The Bendigo by-laws say any prop­erty un­der a hectare re­quires a per­mit to con­duct fuel re­duc­tion burns and that’s what gets most peo­ple,’’ Mr Watkins said.

‘‘Most of the fires we at­tend are il­le­gal ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil by-laws, if peo­ple are burn­ing off dur­ing to­tal fire ban days, the po­lice will also at­tend and the fines are quite a bit of money.’’

Even if con­di­tions are good, Mr Watkins said that fires can get out of con­trol quickly if they aren’t su­per­vised.

‘‘We get called out to a num­ber of fires that were started when the con­di­tions were good but then changed; it’s im­por­tant that peo­ple keep an eye on things when they’re burn­ing off,’’ he said.

‘‘Things such as logs and stumps can stay burn­ing for around two weeks un­der­ground, it’s pos­si­ble for them to re-ig­nite later in the right con­di­tions and burn pad­docks.’’

CFA District 18 Op­er­a­tions Man­ager John Bigham is warn­ing the com­mu­nity not to be com­pla­cent when it comes to the com­ing sum­mer sea­son and to get pre­pared early.

“Out-of-con­trol burn-offs and un­reg­is­tered burn-offs have been a ma­jor headache for brigades this year,” he said.

“Just be­cause the Fire Dan­ger Pe­riod is yet to start doesn’t mean it’s safe to burn off. You should avoid burn­ing off when high winds are fore­cast – not only on the day of your burn, but for the days af­ter­wards.”

This fire sea­son CFA will be tak­ing a zero tol­er­ance ap­proach to any fires re­sult­ing from neg­li­gent be­hav­iour.

“You don’t have to live in the coun­try to be at risk of fire,” he said.

“If you live near ar­eas that have sig­nif­i­cant bush, for­est or long grass then you need to plan ahead for the fire sea­son.

“Now is the time to make sure you are pre­pared for sum­mer and that you know what you and your fam­ily will do on high fire-risk days.

“Pre­par­ing your prop­erty early means you min­imise the chance of prop­erty dam­age dur­ing a fire.

“Get the fam­ily to­gether and or­gan­ise a big clean-up around your home.

“Keep trees, over­hang­ing branches and shrubs to a min­i­mum near your home, par­tic­u­larly around and un­der win­dows.

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

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit cfa.vic.gov.au.

Heath­cote CFA’s Carl Watkins says now is the time to pre­pare for the fire sea­son.

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