Out of con­trol burn offs prompt warn­ing by CFA

Mansfield Courier - - Opinions / People Courier -

CFA is urg­ing res­i­dents across Vic­to­ria to take ex­treme care when burn­ing off after re­spond­ing to out of con­trol pri­vate burn offs.

State duty of­fi­cer Kade Dowie said vol­un­teers had re­sponded to a spate of un­reg­is­tered fires tak­ing up hun­dreds of vol­un­teers’ hours un­nec­es­sar­ily.

“We en­cour­age res­i­dents in the ar­eas par­tic­u­larly not yet in Fire Dan­ger Pe­riod, to take ad­van­tage of the win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to clean up their prop­er­ties be­fore the bush­fire sea­son, but the ef­fects of an out of con­trol fire can be dev­as­tat­ing,” he said.

“In last week’s hot and windy con­di­tions, we saw quite a few burn offs flare up even a cou­ple of days after the burn off, which highlights the im­por­tance of mak­ing sure your burn off is fully ex­tin­guished.

“We’d urge any­one who has burnt off in the past few days to dou­ble check that it has been fully ex­tin­guished.”

Much of the North­ern and North East ar­eas of Vic­to­ria al­ready have fire re­stric­tions in place.

“It is vi­tal peo­ple do the right thing by check­ing con­di­tions, com­ply­ing with lo­cal by-laws and reg­is­ter­ing their burn offs,” Mr Dowie said.

“A two-minute call is all it takes to reg­is­ter the burn.

“It is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial that you have enough wa­ter on hand to put out a fire.

“There isn’t enough time to run back to your house if your fire gets out of con­trol.

“You should con­struct a fire break, free of flammable, ma­te­ri­als around any burn off.”

Burn­ing off un­der­growth and other veg­e­ta­tion may gen­er­ally be per­mit­ted out­side of the Fire Dan­ger Pe­riod, but landown­ers should al­ways check lo­cal laws and reg­is­ter their burn off by call­ing 1800 668 511.

Prop­erty own­ers have le­gal obli­ga­tions when burn­ing off.

Fail­ing to com­ply with lo­cal coun­cil by-laws and state leg­is­la­tion can lead to a fine.

Mr Dowie said reg­is­ter­ing burn offs by call­ing 1800 668 511 would en­sure the burn could be added to the statewide reg­is­ter.

“All calls to Triple Zero (000) about smoke sight­ings are cross-checked with that reg­is­ter, and fire­fight­ers are called out if noth­ing is listed for that lo­ca­tion,” he said.

“False alarm calls to un­reg­is­tered burn offs take vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers away from work­places, fam­i­lies and other emer­gen­cies.”

If you light a fire with­out a per­mit dur­ing the Fire Dan­ger Pe­riod, you could be charged with break­ing the law.

Penal­ties may in­clude a fine up to $19,342 and/or up to 12 months im­pris­on­ment.

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; and if your burn off gets out of con­trol, call ‘000’ im­me­di­ately.

For more in­for­ma­tion about burn­ing off, go to cfa.vic.gov.au/burnoff.

GONE: A sim­ple burn off at Howqua In­let re­cently saw the to­tal de­struc­tion of a hol­i­day home and car­a­van.

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