CFA sounds alarm

October 11, 2017

Heathcote CFA captain Carl Watkins.

FIRE season could start as early as this month according to forecasts, and CFA captain Carl Watkins is warning residents of the dangers.

The CFA has issued a warning to clean up around homes and to register any burn-offs.

Heathcote fire brigade captain Carl Watkins said with this season’s total fire ban approaching, it’s important residents know when they can burn off and how to keep their fires under control.

‘‘The Bendigo by-laws say any property under a hectare requires a permit to conduct fuel reduction burns and that’s what gets most people,’’ Mr Watkins said.

‘‘Most of the fires we attend are illegal according to the council by-laws, if people are burning off during total fire ban days, the police will also attend and the fines are quite a bit of money.’’

Even if conditions are good, Mr Watkins said that fires can get out of control quickly if they aren’t supervised.

‘‘We get called out to a number of fires that were started when the conditions were good but then changed; it’s important that people keep an eye on things when they’re burning off,’’ he said.

‘‘Things such as logs and stumps can stay burning for around two weeks underground, it’s possible for them to re-ignite later in the right conditions and burn paddocks.’’

CFA District 18 Operations Manager John Bigham is warning the community not to be complacent when it comes to the coming summer season and to get prepared early.

“Out-of-control burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs have been a major headache for brigades this year,” 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.”

This fire season CFA will be taking a zero tolerance approach to any fires resulting from negligent behaviour.

“You don’t have to live in the country to be at risk of fire,” he said.

“If you live near areas that have significant bush, forest or long grass then you need to plan ahead for the fire season.

“Now is the time to make sure you are prepared for summer and that you know what you and your family will do on high fire-risk days.

“Preparing your property early means you minimise the chance of property damage during a fire.

“Get the family together and organise a big clean-up around your home.

“Keep trees, overhanging branches and shrubs to a minimum near your home, particularly around and under windows.

“While CFA does everything it can, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires.”

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