The start date for this year’s Victorian fire season was set by fire authorities two weeks ago, with the first Fire Danger Period (FDP) for the 2023/24 fire season starting on Monday, October 9, for Wellington and East Gippsland Shire Councils.

The predicted El Niño weather pattern means Victorians can expect a hotter and drier summer than recent years, with CFA urging communities to prepare their properties and create a Bushfire Survival Plan.

CFA will introduce further FDPs for Victorian municipalities in the coming months based on assessments of the amount of rain, the grassland curing rate and local conditions.

CFA’s Chief Officer, Jason Heffernan, said the FDP declaration was earlier this year, indicating what people can expect for the summer ahead.

“While crews are ready to respond and support communities this bushfire season, fire safety is a shared responsibility, and we ask Victorians to prepare and know their local risks,” Mr Heffernan said.

“We are asking anyone burning off in the next two weeks before the official FDP begins to be very careful.

“Take this opportunity ahead of the FDP to clean up your property, prepare your bushfire plan with your family and download the VicEmergency app.”

The CFA’s Deputy Chief Officer South East, Trevor Owen, said fire authorities were exceedingly conscious of the increasing dry conditions in Wellington and East Gippsland Shires owing to reduced rainfall during winter and spring.

“With increased day and night temperatures and lower rainfall than average forecast over the coming months, the timing for the early introduction of the Fire Danger Period is necessary,” he said.

No burning off is permitted during the FDP without a permit to burn.

Applications for a permit to burn can be made via the Fire Permits Victoria website, www.firepermits.vic.gov.au.

While you can also apply for a permit by calling ESTA on 1800 668 511, registering your burn-off online allows emergency call takers to allocate more time to take calls from people who need emergency assistance immediately.

Fire Danger Period information:

  • A written permit is required to burn off grass, undergrowth, weeds or other vegetation during the FDP.
  • You can apply for a permit at firepermits.vic.gov.au.
  • Lighting fires in the open without a permit can bring a penalty of more than $21,800 and/or 12 months imprisonment. For a full list of conditions, visit cfa.vic.gov.au/can.
  • Farmers can find legal guidelines and practical advice at cfa.vic.gov.au/farms.
  • More information about FDPs is available online at www.cfa.vic.gov.au/firedangerperiod.
  • To find out what you can and can’t do during FDP, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/can or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.