THE Country Fire Authority has declared the Fire Danger Period will begin in the Wellington and East Gippsland shires at 1am on Monday, December 23.
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.
Fire Danger Periods are based on local conditions and take into account fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall.
CFA regional director Mark Potter 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 Potter 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.
“Farmers should also take precautions with haystacks, with the amount of rain the state has seen recently, coupled with some hot and humid weather, haystacks in sheds and outside could self-ignite.
“Spontaneous combustion is the leading cause of haystack fires in Victoria. Stacks become dangerous when heating approaches about 70 degrees Celsius and can rapidly reach ignition point.
“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.”