IT’S TIME TO ACT
CFA urges locals to prepare for fire season
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.