Being prepared the                                       key to summer safety

December 9th, 2021Being prepared the key to summer safety

WHILE Victorian fire services are predicting a milder bushfire season given most of Victoria has received above-average rainfall, residents are being urged to remain vigilant and be prepared.

According to the Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for summer 2021-22, released last week, Victoria is expecting below-normal bushfire potential in the east of the state. But fast-running grassfires will be a risk across Victoria this summer, with winter and spring rain leading to significant growth in paddocks and roadsides.
The delayed harvest due to recent rain will heighten the fire risk associated with cropping, compared to previous years, according to Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, who stressed residents and visitors to regional Victoria, particularly tourist destinations like the Hepburn and Macedon Ranges shires, needed to understand the local fire risks.
“When grasses and crops are close to fully dry, there is a very high potential for fire behaviour to rapidly escalate under elevated fire weather conditions. Normal fire potential is expected in grasslands and dry forests, and short-duration fires are still likely to occur on hot, dry and windy days. Know where you can go to get good information to make good decisions. Stay informed over summer – listen to information and warnings and be ready to enact your plan.”
The climate outlook for summer indicates average rainfall for most of Victoria, with warmer than average conditions in the west of the state and cooler than average in the east. Mr Crisp said anyone who lived in or travelled through regional areas needed to monitor conditions and have a plan for dry, hot and windy days.
Meanwhile, the spring 2021 firewood collection season closed last week and it is now illegal to collect firewood from public land. During the two-month collection period across the region, larger quantities of wood were collected as a result of the June storm. Forest Fire Management Victoria deputy chief fire officer for the Grampians region, Tony English, said his crews were still recovering wood from storm-affected areas in time for the autumn collection season next year. People caught breaking firewood collection rules can face penalties of up to $9087 and/or up to a year in prison, if the matter is taken to court. Vehicles and equipment may also be seized.
Finally, the Central Highlands region is a major domestic tourism destination with one of the largest numbers of accommodation sites. Operators are encouraged to plan for the fire season with the Tourism Business Fire Ready Kit. Accommodation owners, including Airbnb operators are urged to use the kit, particularly to provide information for tourists in the event of a bushfire emergency. The kit is free and can be found on the CFA’s website https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/fire-ready-kit

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