Longer fire sea­son ex­pected

Benalla Ensign - - News -

Be­nalla CFA op­er­a­tions man­ager Ste­wart Krelt­szheim has high­lighted the need to pre­pare Vic­to­rian prop­er­ties as the state faces an ear­lier, longer, and in some parts more se­vere fire sea­son than nor­mal.

The fire-dan­ger pe­riod is fast ap­proach­ing across Vic­to­ria, so any burn-offs need to be con­ducted soon and be­fore the win­dow to do so closes.

‘‘Across the state, we are wit­ness­ing low lev­els of rain­fall and a build-up of fuel loads on the ground. These are con­di­tions that could lead to a bad fire sea­son,’’ Mr Krelt­szheim said.

‘‘The best way to de­fend your homes is to pre­pare be­fore the fire-dan­ger pe­riod be­gins.

‘‘This in­cludes clean­ing up your gar­dens, your gut­ters and re­mov­ing flammable waste from your yards.

‘‘Many prop­erty own­ers dis­pose of this waste with a burn-off, but con­sider al­ter­na­tive meth­ods, such as mulching, chip­ping or tak­ing green waste to a trans­fer sta­tion.

‘‘Res­i­dents who wish to con­duct burn-offs on their pri­vate prop­er­ties need to fol­low some ba­sic rules.

‘‘Check weather con­di­tions, mon­i­tor the wind, and fol­low lo­cal coun­cil laws and reg­u­la­tions.

‘‘Be­fore light­ing up, reg­is­ter your burn-off.’’

Mr Krelt­szheim also high­lighted the im­por­tance of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

‘‘It is im­por­tant that as well as reg­is­ter­ing your burn-offs, you no­tify your neigh­bours that they may see smoke,’’ he said.

‘‘False alarms take CFA crews away from real emer­gen­cies, can in­crease the risk to the com­mu­nity and can be very frus­trat­ing for our crews, many of whom are vol­un­teers.

‘‘By reg­is­ter­ing your burn-off, any re­ports of smoke or fire will be cross-checked with the burn-off reg­is­ter to avoid un­nec­es­sary re­sponse of fire ser­vices.’’

Mr Krelt­szheim said when reg­is­ter­ing a burn-off by phone or email, peo­ple would be asked for ba­sic in­for­ma­tion, such as lo­ca­tion, date, start and fin­ish times, and what they in­tend to burn.

‘‘The burn-off line is very easy to use — the op­er­a­tors are friendly, and prompt you by ask­ing the key ques­tions,’’ he said.

‘‘When con­duct­ing burnoffs, re­main alert and al­ways have re­sources on hand to ex­tin­guish the fire.

‘‘Check the weather, winds must be light and tem­per­a­tures low.

‘‘Make sure you have suf­fi­cient wa­ter on hand at all times and fully ex­tin­guish the burn once com­pleted.

‘‘Es­caped burn-offs or those not con­ducted prop­erly will re­sult in you be­ing li­able for the con­se­quences.’’

Keep your burn-off safe and le­gal:

● Check fire re­stric­tions with your lo­cal coun­cil and reg­is­ter your burn on 1800 668 511.

● Check and mon­i­tor weather con­di­tions — par­tic­u­larly wind.

● To avoid un­nec­es­sary calls to emer­gency ser­vices, no­tify your neigh­bours be­fore­hand

● Leave a three-me­tre fire break, free from flammable ma­te­ri­als around the burn.

● Have suf­fi­cient equip­ment and wa­ter to stop the fire spread­ing.

● Never leave a burn-off unat­tended — stay for its en­tire du­ra­tion.

● If your burn-off gets out of con­trol, phone ‘‘000’’ im­me­di­ately.

● For more in­for­ma­tion about pre­par­ing your prop­erty, go to cfa.vic.gov.au/pre­pare Landown­ers can reg­is­ter their burn-off with the Emer­gency Ser­vices Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity (ESTA) by phon­ing 1800 668 511 or email­ing burnoffs@esta.vic.gov.au

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