Gippsland’s CFA district 10 firefighters furious

GIPPSLAND’S CFA district 10 firefighters will be cracking down on anyone caught breaking fire restrictions.

A zero tolerance policy when it comes to illegal burn offs and other faux pas will be adopted.

This comes after a recent series of fires caused by slashers and mowers.

Operations manager Allan Rankin said landowners needed to be held accountable.

“We all have a responsibility,” he said urging people to make themselves aware of fire risks.

“We’re only weeks into this fire season and already our volunteers have been called upon too many times,” he added.

Two of the five fires broke out on Thursday, December 27, at Newry and Wurruk, destroying 20 and five hectres respectively.

With a 10 hectre fire started the following day at Airly, north of Sale and a two hectre grass fire ignited at Seaspray, Saturday, December 29.

The Airly fire, like the Christmas Eve grass fire at Cobains, north east of Sale, was attended by a fire bombing helicopter.

More than 50 firefighters, a grader and other machinery were required to douse flames at Airly.

These fires, according to Mr Rankin, were caused by tractors, slashers and ride on mowers that didn’t have the required fire suppression equipment.

“All these fires could have been prevented,” Mr Rankin said.

He said getting landowners to comply with the CFA act, which sets out the regulations for using farming equipment during Fire Danger Periods has always been a challenge.

“Extinguishers or knapsacks with the required water capacity must be fitted to every tractor or self-propelled piece of farm machinery,” he said, with harvesters and other large machinery also equipped with a shovel.

With summer heating up, Mr Rankin said now was a good time for people to check their firefighting equipment was on hand and in good working order.

While the CFA understands the need for cropping, harvesting and mowing grass on rural properties, Mr Rankin said, farmers and landowners needed to make themselves aware to the local conditions.

He said they needed to be extra vigilant when using machinery in hot, dry and windy weather.

“The conditions across the district mean there’s a strong chance that if a fire starts in could develop quickly,” he said.