IT’S TIME TO ACT

CFA urges lo­cals to pre­pare for fire sea­son

McIvor Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MICHAEL MAT­TINGLY

HEATH­COTE lo­cals are be­ing urged to use this year’s Fire Ac­tion Week (Oc­to­ber 7-14) to con­sider what an ear­lier and longer bush­fire sea­son could mean for them and their loved ones.

Heath­cote CFA chief Carl Watkins said his team are ask­ing peo­ple to pre­pare now for the up­com­ing fire sea­son by re­mov­ing com­bustible fu­els from around their res­i­dences, clean­ing gutters and keep­ing the grass cover down to a low level.

‘‘Lo­cals should be look­ing to re­move any­thing they can from around the prop­erty that may im­pact their as­sets if im­pacted by fire,’’ he said.

‘‘Re­mem­ber green waste is free to drop off at the lo­cal re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity.’’

Mr Watkins said peo­ple who live in ar­eas near scrub and for­est will be at a height­ened risk this sum­mer due to the ex­treme dry­ness of for­est fu­els.

‘‘Make a plan as to what you are go­ing to do on those ex­treme fire dan­ger days to come.

‘‘Are you go­ing to stay and de­fend your prop­erty or be some­where else on those re­ally bad days?’’

Mr Watkins said mow­ing dry grass or pad­docks when the con­di­tions are too dry can re­sult in a fire, so lo­cals should be look­ing to limit these sort of ac­tiv­i­ties to the early morn­ing or af­ter a shower of rain.

‘‘The de­clared fire dan­ger pe­riod looks like it may start to­wards the end of this month so res­i­dents have a small amount of time to pre­pare.

‘‘Bri­gade mem­bers will be avail­able at the No­vem­ber mar­ket for any en­quiries res­i­dents may have.’’

CFA chief of­fi­cer Steve War­ring­ton said Vic­to­ria’s an­nual fire plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion aware­ness week was a time to in­crease your un­der­stand­ing of the fire risk where you live, to pre­pare your prop­erty, and to talk to loved ones about what you’ll do to stay safe.

“Mak­ing in­formed de­ci­sions is vi­tal to your safety dur­ing a fire. Now is the best time to un­der­stand your fire risk and get pre­pared,” he said.

“This week, talk to your fam­ily, friends and neigh­bours about the fire risk where you live and make plans for what you’ll do on hot, dry, windy days.”

Fol­low­ing Vic­to­ria’s sec­ond-dri­est Septem­ber on record, fore­casts show that there is po­ten­tial for an ear­lier and longer fire sea­son in Vic­to­ria.

“Tak­ing steps to get pre­pared be­fore the fire sea­son means you know what to do when you’re at risk,” Mr War­ring­ton said.

“Pre­par­ing your prop­erty means you min­imise the chance of prop­erty dam­age dur­ing a fire, even if you plan to leave early, so keep trees, over­hang­ing branches and shrubs to a min­i­mum near your home, par­tic­u­larly around and un­der win­dows. A big clean up be­fore the fire sea­son can make a huge dif­fer­ence to the safety and sur­vival of your home in a bush­fire.

“You also need to plan and pre­pare for your safety. Pack im­por­tant doc­u­ments, pho­tos, med­i­ca­tions, money and clothes so you can leave eas­ily be­fore a fire starts. Un­der­stand your risk and plan ahead. Know what to do on hot, dry, windy days when fires will start and spread quickly. Plan for all sit­u­a­tions by talk­ing to your fam­ily and friends about how you’ll know when to leave, where you’ll go and how you’ll get there.

“Make sure you know to check Fire Dan­ger Rat­ings on the VicEmer­gency web­site and app and get into the habit of check­ing them daily to un­der­stand the fire risk in your area.

“It’s up to all of us to stay in­formed by us­ing more than one source of in­for­ma­tion, un­der­stand­ing the three lev­els of warn­ings, what they mean and what you should do.”

Mr War­ring­ton said wait­ing un­til the Fire Dan­ger Rat­ing is Se­vere, Ex­treme or Code Red puts lives in se­ri­ous dan­ger.

“Choose the safer op­tion of leav­ing early and pro­tect your­self and your fam­ily.

“Leav­ing early means leav­ing be­fore a fire starts, oth­er­wise you risk driv­ing through thick smoke, fallen trees and power lines, and face the threat of ma­jor de­lays, traf­fic col­li­sions, be­ing trapped or worse,” he said.

Visit cfa.vic.gov.au for more in­for­ma­tion.

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