THIS season’s official fire danger period for Frankston, Mornington Peninsula and French and Phillip islands starts next Monday, 30 November.
CFA South East Region assistant chief officer Trevor Owen said fire restrictions were starting earlier than last year because of recent warm and dry conditions.
“So far, all indicators are pointing to a challenging fire season ahead,” Mr Owen said. “While CFA does everything it can, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires.”
Mr Owen said “a short window of opportunity” remained for property owners to clean up but warned against illegal fires.
“Out of control burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs have been a major headache for brigades,” he said.
“Just because the fire danger period is yet to start doesn’t mean it’s safe to burn off. You should avoid burning off when high winds are forecast – not only on the day of your burn but for the days afterwards.”
Mr Owen said the CFA would be taking a “zero tolerance” approach to any fires resulting from negligent behaviour.
“Expect any fire you start to be fully investigated by police,” he said. “Even if you have a permit to use fire over the fire danger period, make sure you read the conditions carefully. Failing to follow just one of those conditions can still leave you open to prosecution.”
During the fire danger period fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a municipal fire prevention officer. The fire bans are based on local conditions and take into account fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall.
More details at cfa.vic.gov.au/can or call 1800 240 667. All burn-offs should be registered with the VicFire Burn-off notification line, 1800 668 511.
Mr Owen cautioned against relying on one source of information during summer.
Fire information was available through ABC local radio, or other emergency broadcasters including radio, SKY TV, downloading the FireReady App, emergency.vic.gov.au, calling the bushfire information 1800 240 667.
During the fire danger period a written permit is required to burn off grass, undergrowth, weeds or other vegetation during. Details available from the Mornington Peninsula and Frankston municipal fire prevention officers.
Lighting a fire in the open without a permit can bring a penalty of more than $18,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment. Barbecues and fires for cooking and warmth do not require a permit, but must be lit in properly constructed fireplaces.
Incinerators, chainsaws and lawn mowers, and vehicles and equipment that come in contact with vegetation are permitted subject to conditions.
Farmers can find legal guidelines and practical advice at cfa.vic.gov.au/farming – this information is important especially for new farmers, bush block owners or hobby farmers.
A total fire ban means no fires can be lit for the declared district for that day unless there is a specific exemption or special permit issued.
This applies irrespective of the fire restriction status for a given municipality. Details: cfa.vic.gov.au/can