Fire restrictions come into force

Region - The Fire Danger Period for Ararat Rural City and Pyrenees Shire councils came into force yesterday.

During the Fire Danger Period fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from Country Fire Authority or a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer.

Fire Danger Periods are based on local conditions and take into account fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall.

CFA District 16 operations manager Chris Eagle said the community needs to be fire ready Especially those living in high risk areas.

"CFA looks to the community to do the right thing by their family and neighbours and follow the fire restrictions that are in place throughout the Fire Danger Period," he said.

"Fire restrictions are in place for a reason To help prevent fires from starting. Preventing fires is something that every member of the community should see as their responsibility.

"Last season Victoria experienced more than 4,000 grass and bushfires and this summer we can expect similar conditions."

Mr Eagle said Victoria is one of the most fire-prone regions in the world and it only takes two weeks of hot, dry and windy weather to create dangerous fire conditions.

"While we saw several bushfires last season, grassfires should not be underestimated. They travel faster than you can run and can kill," he said.

"Living in a grassland area with dried-out (brown or golden-coloured) grass that is over 10cm high is a significant risk to people, houses and infrastructure.

"It's not too late to protect your home and property by slashing, mowing, grazing, and spraying grass, and for larger properties, farms and farm lets Create fuel breaks by grading or ploughing fuel breaks down to the bare earth.

"But while preparing your property is a good place to start, it's just as important to prepare yourself and your family for fire. Before the fire season, sit down and talk to everyone you live with. Have a fire plan in place and most importantly, practise it.

"It's up to you to check Fire Danger Ratings every day in summer - these help you know when the conditions are dangerous enough to enact your fire plan. Remember that if you can see smoke, you're leaving it too late. A fire that is miles away could be at your door in minutes."

To find out more about getting ready for the fire season visit cfa.vic.gov.au or call 1800 240 667.

A map showing fire restriction across Victorian municipalities and a Can I or Can't I? brochure is available at www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can/ (detailing the restrictions and the differences between FDP and Total Fire Ban days) and is also available by phoning the VBIL on 1800 240 667.

Fire Danger Period restrictions - the details:

Fires in the open air are legally restricted when a FDP is declared in a municipality by CFA. A written permit is required to burn off grass, undergrowth, weeds or other vegetation. This permit is issued by the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer or the CFA District Office. All burn-offs should be registered with the VicFire Burn-off notification line on 1800 668 511 as part of the permit conditions.

Lighting a fire in the open without a permit is an offence and can bring a penalty of over $17,000 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 (that is, metal, stone or concrete), not be used in strong winds (less than or equal to 10 kilometres per hour), be clear of all flammable material for three metres from the outer perimeter and be supervised at all times by a person who has the capacity and means to extinguish the fire. (Details in Can I or Can't I?).

The use of an incinerator, chainsaw/lawn mower, welding/grinding equipment, vehicles that come in contact with vegetation and machinery with an internal combustion/heat engine are permitted provided guidelines are followed (Details in Can I or Can't I?).

CFA's On the Land: Agricultural Fire Management Guidelines provides practical fire management advice for people living and working on rural properties and is particularly useful to those new to farming. To view and/or download the guidelines, go to the CFA website.

A Total Fire Ban declaration 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 in Can I Can't I?).

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