“Following on from a wet winter across large parts of southern Australia (the second wettest winter on record for the country), September saw further rainfall, with more records broken in parts of central and western New South Wales, western Victoria, eastern South Australia and western Queensland. With this in mind, the bushfire seasonal outlook has been re-examined.
Further rainfall is expected to be average to below average in most areas, and when this is coupled with summer temperatures that are forecast to be average to above average, more areas are now expected to experience above normal fire conditions. This increase in fire potential is predominantly in grassland areas of Victoria and New South Wales, with above average rainfall leading to ideal growing conditions. As temperatures warm, this grass will dry, increasing the risk. ”
The new app replaces FireReady and brings together emergency information and warnings from all Victoria’s emergency services, including CFA, MFB, SES, Life Saving Victoria, Department of Economic Development and Transport and Resources, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Victorian communities can now access all our emergency information and warnings through the one, centralised location. The new app can be accessed on most mobile phones and tablets, and similar to FireReady it provides targeted warnings and notifications for specific locations which are called ‘watch zones’. Users can create up to 20 watch zones that are tailored to areas relevant for them.
To update FireReady to VicEmergency please visit you app store on your device, and follow the prompts to update the app. New users will be able to download the VicEmergency app from the App Store or Google Play.
The VicEmergency app brings together emergency information and warnings from agencies including:
Country Fire Authority
Department of Economic Development and Transport and Resources
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Department of Health and Human Services
Life Saving Victoria
Metropolitan Fire Brigade
Victoria State Emergency Service.
We also need to remind residents to always use more than one source of information and warnings this summer. This can include visiting the VicEmergency website, tuning into ABC local radio, calling the new VicEmergency Hotline (1800 226 226), or following CFA or VicEmergency on Facebook or Twitter.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council, in consultation with local CFA brigades, has approved the lifting of burning off restrictions for the month of October for land less than 4,000 square metres.
Residents must ensure that when burning off they do not create a nuisance for their neighbours and should continue to monitor any burn-off for at least seven days to ensure it is fully extinguished.
Large loads of green waste (excluding noxious weeds) can also be taken and tipped for free at Council’s transfer stations until 31 December 2016.
Residents are also encouraged to make use of their green waste bin.
Council urges residents to monitor weather conditions prior to the commencement of any burning off on their property and to remember to register their burn by calling 1800 668 511, to minimise nuisance callouts to the local fire brigade.
Despite the large amount of rainfall in recent weeks, Council is urging residents not to become complacent when it comes to preparing their property for the summer fire season.
Acting Director Assets and Operations, Shane Power said it was important residents prepared their properties for the season by removing fine fuels such as long grass, weeds, twigs and leaves. “Significant rain in recent weeks and warmer weather conditions will result in a green landscape across the shire, but this doesn’t mean that we can become complacent about the fire risk during summer,” he said. To assist property owners in cleaning up their property, during the month of October burning off restrictions under Council’s Local Law will be lifted for those residents living on land less than 4,000 square metres (one acre).
Residents must ensure that when burning off they do not create a nuisance for their neighbours and should continue to monitor any burn-off for at least seven days to ensure it is fully extinguished. Burn-offs must be registered by calling 1800 668 511.
Council will also be getting its own house in order for the fire season by reducing fire hazards on Council-managed roadsides and properties.
“With nearly 1,700 km of Council-managed roads in the shire, we must prioritise our roadside slashing programs to target high traffic roads near grasslands and township boundaries,” Mr Power said. “We are planning to initially focus on areas in the north of the shire that are known to dry out the quickest and we will monitor regrowth carefully over the fire season.” Council’s Fire Management Officer will also begin inspecting private properties for fire risk in mid-October. Fire Prevention Notices will be issued to those properties that pose a serious fire risk to their neighbourhood.
Council has also put together a useful planner which outlines the preparation activities that you should undertake to adequately prepare your property and household in the event of an emergency. The Macedon Ranges Community Emergency Preparation Planner can be picked up from one of Council’s customer service centres in Kyneton, Gisborne, Romsey and Woodend. The planner also provides information on what to do on high fire risk days, and encourages community members to share information about emergencies.
For more information, call Council on 5422 0333.
Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world. Understanding your level of risk is the first step in knowing what to do before and during a fire.
The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre recently released the Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for 2016-17, which shows an above normal bushfire potential across North, North West and Western Victoria.
Now is the best time to make sure you understand your fire risk and start preparing yourself, your family and your home for the threat of fire this summer. Go to http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/am-I-at-risk/ to have a look at the different types of fire risk environments below and see which one you live in. By recognising and understanding your risk environment this will also help you to start preparing your property for fire and know what to do.
CFA Brigades and volunteers in the Macedon Ranges have been inundated with these sort of questions since the unfortunate battle between the CFA and the Victorian Government and Unions.
It is a shame that the situation has escalated to where our community is concerned as to whether their safety will be threatened. We would like to assure the Macedon Ranges communities that, despite the disturbing distraction, all CFA Brigades will be turning out as normal if there is an emergency and event. These include the Brigades in Bullengarook, Gisborne, Hesket-Kerrie, Macedon, Mt Macedon, Newham, Riddells Creek and Woodend.
We are totally committed to the safety of our communities and the volunteer service that has been provided by some brigades for more than 120 years.
MACEDON RANGES CFA BRIGADES – 100% VOLUNTEERS, 200% REWARDING
With all of the recent media coverage on the future of CFA volunteers, we were also amazed at some of the misconceptions that were held within the Macedon Ranges and surrounding communities. We were staggered to hear that some people believed that there were permanent paid firefighters at our local CFA Fire Brigades. This is not true. All Brigades in the Macedon Ranges are 100% volunteers. The nearest CFA Brigades with any permanent fire fighters are Sunbury, Caroline Springs and Melton.
Further to that people thought that the Captains and Lieutenants were receiving wages. Not true. Not one volunteer in the Macedon Ranges receives or has received any payment of wages for the time they give to their CFA duties. We also heard that we were reimbursed if we turned out to an incident. Again, not true. We are all volunteers who do what we do to provide an important service to our community. As do all members of CFA volunteer brigades throughout the state.
There are more than 200 operative volunteer fire fighters in Macedon ranges, and we all give up our time, some of it considerable for some members, totally free. There are also many others who volunteer their time and services for various brigade and community work, also totally free. But all very rewarding.
On a cold winter night it’s nice to settle down in front of a wood fire. But if that wood fire isn’t being properly maintained it could change from being an indulgence to a life threatening danger.
Chimney fires are caused by the accumulation of creosote and other products of incomplete combustion in the chimney. Over a period of months these products build up in the chimney as a coating and when subjected to strong heat from the fire ignite in the chimney with a real potential to start a fire in the roof.
There is a danger that these fires, burning in the roof space above smoke alarms, or in wall cavity’s, can go undetected until they are substantial, life threatening, fires.
Minimising the risk of chimney fires is simple. Each April, or before you intend to start using the fire, clean the chimney. You may also do an additional cleaning in mid-winter to be extra sure that you won’t have to face a chimney fire. You may be able to do this yourself if you can safely work on the roof and have a suitable chimney brush. If not there are professional chimney cleaners who can clean your chimney and check their integrity.
It’s also worth checking the roof space to make sure that there is nothing flammable close to the chimney. Chimney fires aren’t limited to houses. They can occur in commercial premises including hotels and guest houses. Indeed any premises with wood fires have the potential for chimney fires.
When you go to bed tonight are you sure that your wood fire won’t lead to a chimney fire? Have you taken care to make sure that your chimney has been cleaned to minimise the risk of fire? Have you taken a minute to smell for smoke or the smell of very hot metal? Do you have working smoke alarms? Chimney fires are avoidable. Regularly cleaned and serviced chimneys and working smoke alarms could save your family’s lives.
Do you understand what the signs at the Gisborne roundabout and the fire station are telling you? What about the electronic signs on the freeway? Who looks after them? When are they adjusted?
The last two questions are that members of the Gisborne CFA Brigade adjust the signs each afternoon, usually around 5 pm. All members of the brigade receive a paged message each afternoon with the fire danger ratings for our area from district headquarters, along with fire weather forecasts. Delegated members are then given the responsibility of ensuring that the signs are adjusted to match. The electronic signs are centrally adjusted and not under the control of the brigade.
The Fire Danger Rating predicts how a fire would behave if one started, including how difficult it would be to put out. The higher the rating, the more dangerous the conditions. The rating is your trigger to act, so to stay safe you need to stay aware of the Fire Danger Rating in Gisborne. You can see the ratings any time at http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/total-fire-bans-and-ratings/
Now is the time to prepare your house. How far around your house can you clear BEFORE you need to get council permission?
The short answer is: it depends. Where is your house? When was it constructed? Does it replace a house previously destroyed by bush fire? All these facts determine exactly what you can and can’t do.
CFA has launched a new online tool to make it easier for people to check whether they can clear vegetation, including trees and branches, from around their homes without a permit. Planning exemptions – known as the ‘10/30’ and ‘10/50’ rules – were introduced in 2011 to reduce red tape for residents wanting to clear up ahead of the bushfire season.
CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said in many communities these rules were not widely known or understood.
“We are concerned that some residents may be putting off essential property preparation work because they think a permit is needed, and it all goes into the too hard basket,” he said. “For people living in most areas of regional Victoria and in high bushfire risk areas especially, that is not usually the case.”
Gisborne CFA wants everyone to be aware that in most parts of the Macedon Ranges Shire, a permit isn’t needed to remove trees within 10m of their home and understorey vegetation for up to 30m from their home, but there are exemptions and you need to check before getting the chainsaw out.
A new two-minute video ‘Clear up or clear out’ was released on CFA’s Facebook and YouTube pages this week to raise awareness of the rules around vegetation clearing.
The video is lighthearted on tone but features a serious message, urging residents to ‘check before you clear’ by going to cfa.vic.gov.au/clearing, and talking to the local council.