The Fire Danger Period began at 01.00am on Monday, January 10 for the following municipalities in CFA’s South West Region:
• South Gippsland Shire
• Wellington Shire
• Mornington Peninsula Shire
• Cardinia Shire
• Bass Coast Shire
• City of Casey
• City of Frankston
• City of Greater Dandenong
• City of Kingston
• French Island
• Baw Baw Shire
• Latrobe City
Fire Danger Period restrictions already apply across much of Victoria, with further Fire Danger Periods to be introduced across remaining areas in the coming weeks in accordance with local conditions.
The Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Victoria released on 25 November identified potential for increased grassfire conditions for the 2021/22 fire season.
Much of Victoria has experienced average to above average rainfall during winter and spring, and this has led to above normal pasture growth across paddocks and roadsides for much of the state, which is likely to increase the grass fire risk throughout the summer period.
Grassland and drier forests including woodlands and heathlands have been assessed as normal, however shorter-duration fires are still likely to occur on hot, dry and windy days.
Deputy Chief Officer Trevor Owen reminded Victorians that even an average fire season in this state can still be a bad one.
“Conditions through the last fire season were similar to what we’re expecting this year, and during those months we saw significant grass fires in the north and west of the state,” he said.
“Once again we’ve had plenty of winter and spring rainfall which delayed the introduction of fire restrictions across the South East Region.
“The grass and bush has very rapidly dried out over the Christmas and New Year period with little rainfall and some hot weather.
“Grassland fuels are abundant this season and in many locations over waist height, further increasing the potential grassfire risk over the summer period. For more information contact CFA Media on: 1300 CFA MEDIA (24 hours) or firstname.lastname@example.org
“Any additional rainfall we do experience will only produce more growth, which could very easily result in an even higher fuel load throughout the summer season if not properly managed.
“Some grassland fuels in paddocks that has an annual cycle life have fully cured and will burn readily on the smallest ignition source.
“Reducing fuel loads in these areas is critical to ensuring if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold or spreading.
“While CFA and our partner agencies Fire Rescue Victoria and Forest Fire Management Victoria are doing everything we can to prepare for the bushfire season, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires.”
If people are using fire to clean up around their properties, they should register these at the Fire Permits Website www.firepermits.vic.gov.au, or by calling ESTA on 1800 668 511.
DCO Owen said there is still an opportunity to clean up properties if that work hasn’t already been done.
“Out-of-control burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs have already caused unnecessary callouts to brigades,” he said.
“You should also check and monitor weather conditions and not burn off in windy conditions or if high winds are forecast – not only on the day of your burn but for the days afterwards.
“More information about burn-off restrictions specific to your area can be found by consulting your local council.”
DCO Owen said once the Fire Danger Period (FDP) comes into effect, CFA has a zero-tolerance approach to any fires caused by negligent behaviour.
“Expect any escaped or uncontrolled fire you start to be investigated by CFA and Victoria Police,” he said.
Once a Fire Danger Period has been declared in your local government area, fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer. There are very strict conditions attached to these permits and the liability sits with the permit holder to ensure they always act safely.
You can apply for a permit at firepermits.vic.gov.au.
Fire Danger Periods are based on local conditions and take into account fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall. More information and restrictions are published at https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/fire-danger-period-restrictions.Victorians can find out “Can I or Can’t I?” information at cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can or by calling VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.
All burn-offs should be registered at firepermits.vic.gov.au or with the ESTA Burn-off notification line on 1800 668 511.