Fire danger period begins Monday

The Fire Danger Period (FDP) for Wellington starts at 1am on Monday, January 10 and will be enforced until an end date is provided by the Country Fire Authority (CFA).

Open air fires cannot be lit without a written permit from CFA South East Region.

Wellington Shire Council will keep conducting Fire Prevention Inspections to make sure communities aren’t at high risk, and are asking residents to keep property tidy during summer.

The council requests that residents download the VicEmergency app and set up watch zones for your house, work and any other locations that you travel to frequently.

FDP restrictions already apply across much of Victoria, with further Fire Danger Periods to be introduced across remaining areas in the coming weeks in accordance with local conditions.

The Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Victoria released in November identified potential for increased grassfire conditions for the 2021/22 fire season. Much of Victoria has experienced average to above average rainfall during winter and spring, and this has led to above normal pasture growth across paddocks and roadsides for much of the state, which is likely to increase the grass fire risk throughout the summer period.

Deputy Chief Officer Trevor Owen said that even an average fire season can still be a bad one.

“Conditions through the last fire season were similar to what we’re expecting this year, and during those months we saw significant grass fires in the north and west of the state,” DCO Owen said.

“Once again we’ve had plenty of winter and spring rainfall which delayed the introduction of fire restrictions across the South East Region.

“The grass and bush has very rapidly dried out over the Christmas and New Year period with little rainfall and some hot weather.

“Grassland fuels are abundant this season and in many locations over waist height, further increasing the potential grassfire risk over the summer period.

“Any additional rainfall we do experience will only produce more growth, which could very easily result in an even higher fuel load throughout the summer season if not properly managed.

“Some grassland fuels in paddocks that has an annual cycle life have fully cured and will burn readily on the smallest ignition source. Reducing fuel loads in these areas is critical to ensuring if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold or spreading.”

DCO Owen said there is still an opportunity to clean up properties if that work hasn’t already been done, but added once the FDP comes into effect, CFA has a zero-tolerance approach to any fires caused by negligent behaviour.

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.

If people are using fire to clean up around their properties, they should register these at the Fire Permits Website www.firepermits.vic.gov.au, or by calling ESTA on 1800 668 511.