Municipal Fire Prevention
Golden Plains Shire works with the community through the Municipal
Fire Management Planning Committee to develop the Municipal Fire
Management Plan. This plan identifies the fire risks in the Shire and how
they are to be managed tominimise the impact of fire on the community.
The tragic events of February 7th, 2009 have brought issues of community fire preparedness and fire management into sharp focus. There has been much media coverage fuelling community fear of fire and its consequences.
In light of the event, Council will continue to implement its annual fire prevention program, maintain Neighbourhood Safer Places - Places of Last Resort (NSP-PLR), liaise with CFA and DSE and implement the requirements of the Golden Plains Planning Scheme Wildfire Management Overlay.
Golden Plains Shire has an obligation to contribute towards community fire safety. Council recognises the potential threat fire poses to the community and aims to reduce this threat by developing and implementing the Municipal Fire Management Plan.
The plan is aimed at ensuring the individuals and organisations within Golden Plains Shire are aware of potential fire risks and understand their roles and responsibilities for mitigating these risks. You may access the plan by clicking on the links below.
( Council has developed a Frequently Asked Questions Information Sheet to assist residents with understanding Council's role in fire prevention. This FAQ sheet is available by clicking on the link below.
The Municipal Fire Prevention Officer (MFPO) is Council's Executive Officer to the Municipal Fire Management Planning Committee and oversees the implementation of the Municipal Fire Management Plan. The MFPO also conducts inspections of properties across the Shire and issues Fire Prevention Notices to ensure that fire hazards are reduced.
The Municipal Fire Prevention Officer will:
- Inspect property
- Issue Fire Prevention Notices
- Oversee the implementation of the Municipal Fire Management Plan, including preparation of Municipal Strategic Firebreaks
- Issue permits for open air burning during the declared Fire Danger Period by individuals and CFA Brigades
Fire Prevention Notices
Council's Municipal Fire Prevention Officers conduct inspections of private properties prior to the Fire Danger Period to assess them for fire hazards. Properties deemed to be a high fire risk (e.g. long uncut grass) to either themselves or their immediate neighbours are issued with a Fire Prevention Notice instructing the landholder to carry out certain works to reduce the risk. Landholders are given a period of time to comply before a second round of inspections are conducted. Council will enter land and carry out fire hazard reduction works when landholders do not comply with their Fire Prevention Notice and bill the cost of the works back to the owner.
If you have further questions about Fire Prevention Notices, check out our Frequently Asked Questions page below or contact Councils Municpal Fire Prevention Officer on 5220 7111.
The CFA introduces Fire Restrictions (Fire Danger Period) for all private land in Golden Plains Shire over the summer period each year.
Fire restrictions are determined by the CFA in response to weather and fuel curing in the lead up to summer and they advise Council accordingly.
During this Fire Danger Period residents are required to obtain a permit to burn in the open air.
It is also important to know if a Total Fire Ban applies to you. Golden Plains Shire sits within the Central Fire District and so Total Fire Bans for the Central Fire District apply to the whole of the Golden Plains Shire area.
Community Information Guides
The CFA has developed Community Information Guides; previously known as Township Protection Plans, for the following townships:
- Cape Clear
- Ross Cree/Smythes Creek
- She Oaks/Maude
To see the plans, go to the CFA website (http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/) and follow the links under the Plan and Prepare tab to Community Information Guides. Community information Guides will be developed for other towns in Golden Plains in the future.
Neighbourhood Safer Places - Places of Last Resort (NSP-PLR)
In response to the Black Saturday bushfires, Council has established five open space Neighbourhood Safer Places - Places of Last Resort (NSP-PLR) in Golden Plains Shire. These are located at:
- Cape Clear Recreation Reserve
Recreation Road, Cape Clear
- Haddon Recreation Reserve
Sago Hill Road, Haddon
- Linton Recreation Reserve
Brooke Street, Linton
- Ross Creek Recreation Reserve
Sebastopol- Smythesdale Road, Ross Creek
- Woady Yaloak Equestrian Centre
Corner of Glenelg Highway and Lords Lane, Smythesdale
Neighbourhood Safer Places - Places of Last Resort are identified spaces within the community that may afford some protection from radiant heat, the biggest killer during bushfire. They are a place of last resort in bushfire emergencies only.
These NSP-PLRs are open space areas where residents can go when their personal fire plans have failed and they are left with no other option. They are not a replacement for having your own well prepared fire survival plan and being aware of the weather and fire danger in your area.
There is no guarantee of safety at a NSP-PLR. There are no special facilities and no provision of food, water or built shelter. The NSP-PLR may be uncomfortable and exposed to smoke and embers and is only intended to provide a place of last resort during the passage of a fire.
The Neigbourhood Safer Place question and answer link below has more information on what to expect from a Neighbourhood Safer Place.
Council has also prepared a Municipal Neighbourhood Safer Places Plan.
For more information about NSP-PLR's, visit the CFA website at http://www.saferplaces.cfa.vic.gov.au/ or contact Council's Municipal Fire Prevention Officer on 5220 7111.
Learning about fire
The CFA conduct community meetings and workshops in Golden Plains to better prepare residents for fire. For details of community meetings to be held in your area, check out the CFA website (http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/).
The CFA holds community meetings in response to wildfire events in order to inform residents of the threat and any actions they should take. Stay tuned to local ABC radio (774am in Golden Plains Shire) or check out the CFA website (http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/) more information.
Planned Fuel Reduction and Ecological Burns
Golden Plains Shire uses planned burning on Council owned or managed land for both fuel management and ecological purposes. Burns are carefully planned as per CFA Standard Operating Procedures and carried out with the generous assistance of volunteers from CFA Brigades.
Timing of burns will depend on strict weather and fuel moisture criteria and the availablity of necessary CFA resources.
Council endeavours to notify residents in the immediate vicinity of the burn in advance by mail out.
Planned burns for 2013/14
Council has determined priority planned burns for the 2013/14 season. The execution of these burns is completely dependent on the availability of CFA volunteers to undertake the work and the varigaries of the weather.
Teesdale Grassy Woodlands Don Wallace Reserve Burns
A small boundary burn was carried out in December 2012 by the Teesdale CFA for the Teesdale Grassy Woodland to provide asset protection to residences on the south east side of the Reserve.
A block of vegetation at the front of the Reserve is planned to be burned this season.
Red Gum Reserve, Batesford
A 1.7 hectare burn is planned in the western block of Red Gum Reserve in Batesford to remove a build up of grass fuels and encourage the recovery of lower fuel load native grassland species.
A 0.4 hectare burn is planned in the eastern block of Red Gum Reserve in Batesford to remove a build up of grass fuels and encourage the recovery of lower fuel load native grassland species.
For more information regarding planned burns, please contact Councils Emergency Management (Fire) Coordinator on 5220 7111.
Living in a fire prone area
Prepare, Act, Survive
Golden Plains Shire is prone to wildfire (either grass or forest fire) and it is every resident's responsibility to make sure they are prepared for fire well in advance of the Fire Danger Period. This includes cleaning up all fine fuels such as leaves, twigs and long grass close to the home and having a clear fire plan that is understood by everyone living in your home including visitors. Removal of standing trees for fire prevention is not permitted except within 10 metres of your place of accommodation. You should check with Council if you think trees around your home are a fire hazard.
You should know well in advance of a fire starting whether you are going to stay and actively defend a well prepared home or leave early on high fire danger days.
Residents are strongly encouraged to educate themselves about fire, fire management and how best to prepare for fire by organising or attending one of the CFA's Fire Ready Victoria sessions. Getting together with your neighbours and forming a CFA Community Fireguard group is another effective way of ensuring you are well prepared for the fire season. The CFA has loads of information and support for landholders who live in fire prone areas. Contact your Regional CFA Office or check out the CFA website (www.cfa.vic.gov.au) for more information
The link below provides information on the various fire danger ratings that are published and broadcast through the media during the fire danger period.
There are many things you can do to minimise the risk of fire on your property. The CFA has the excellent Landscaping for Bushfire booklet which provides many ideas on how to best set up your property for fire protection.
Building in a fire prone area
Much of Golden Plains Shire is fire prone and a Wildfire Management Overlay (WMO)has been applied through the Planning Scheme in response to this. Constructing a home in an area subject to the WMO requires that you meet certain building criteria to ensure your home has the best chance of survival in a wildfire event. Additionally, new standards apply to all new dwellings that require a Building Permit. Your building plans will need to comply with these standards before you can get your Planning or Building Permit.
If you are applying for a Planning or Building Permit, check out the guides below:
- Building in a Wildfire Management Overlay Applicant's Kit (CFA Wildfire Management Overlay Applicant's Kit) For more information speak with Council's Planning Department.
- Guide to assessing your property's Bushfire Attack Level (Guide to assessing your property's Bushfire Attack Level) For more information speak with Council's Building Department.
Incinerators and burning off
The use of properly constructed incinerators is permitted in Golden Plains Shire. However, before lighting an incinerator or burning off your pile of garden waste, consider your neighbours. Try to burn off on days when the wind is blowing away from your neighbour's home and when they don't have washing on the line. Always supervise your burning and ensure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving it unattended.
No fires are permitted in the open air during the declared Fire Danger Period (fire restriction period) without a permit. You can contact Council's Municipal Fire Prevention Officer to apply for a permit, however due to the high risk associated with burn offs in a backyard, permits are generally refused. If you need to dispose of garden refuse, you have the option of taking it to the tip or waiting until restrictions are lifted.
Farmers intending to burn crop stubble can apply for permits once the local CFA Group Officers agree to the issuing of permits to burn. This generally occurs in late February to early March.
NO burning is permitted in the open on days of TOTAL FIRE BAN.
More information can be found in the CFA's 'Can I or Can't I?' Information Sheet (CFA - Can I or Can't I(1202 kb))
Permits to Burn
A Permit to Burn is required if you wish to burn off in the open air during the Fire Danger period. Permits are generally not issued for bon fires or for burning green waste unless exceptional circumstances apply. Following consultation with CFA, permits may be issued to landholders who need to burn paddocks as part of a commercial farming operation from March provided weather conditions are suitable. To obtain an application form for a permit to burn in the open air, contact either of Council's customer service centres or click on the link below.
1. Can I remove native vegetation for fire prevention purposes?
Vegetation may be removed for fire prevention purposes and is generally subject to a Planning Permit. Native vegetation includes trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses. Please check with Council's Planning Department for specific advice or Council's Planning Scheme clause 52.17 Native Vegetation. Under the 10/30 rule, native trees may be removed from within 10 metres of your dwelling and fine fuels (shrubs, grasses but not trees) removed within 30 metres of your dwelling. You cannot remove native vegetation from a roadside without permission and/or a permit from Council.
2. Can I burn in the open air during the Fire Danger Period?
Only if you have obtained a permit from the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer or the CFA to burn off in the open during the Fire Danger Period.
3. Do trees pose a fire risk?
Trees pose the greatest risk when they overhang your house or other buildings. Bushfires will not climb into the tree canopy unless there is adequate ground and elevated fuels to assist it. Removing ground fuels such fallen leaves and grasses dramatically reduces fire intensity and fire risk. Reducing the density of elevated fuels like shrubs reduces fire risk and reduces a bushfire's ability to climb into the canopy. The CFA has some excellent resources to help you manage your property for fire. Contact your CFA Regional Office or check out the CFA website (www.cfa.vic.gov.au) for more information.
4. My neighbour is burning off and the smoke annoys me. What can I do?
Burning off whether in the open or an incinerator is regular practice in rural areas. You may be able to speak with your neighbour and ask if they can burn off when your washing is not on the line or when the wind blows away from your property.
5. I've received a Fire Prevention Notice! What does this mean?
Council Municipal Fire Prevention Officers conduct assessments of private property for fire risk prior to the Fire Danger Period each year. Fire Prevention Notices are issued to properties deemed a fire risk to themselves or their neighbours. You need to follow the instructions on the Notice and maintain your property throughout the Fire Danger Period. If you disagree with your Notice, please contact the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer on 5220 7111.
6. Why aren't roadsides burnt off anymore?
Burning off along roadsides for fuel reduction purposes on municipal roads is carried out under permit by the CFA. Burning of the Municipal Strategic Firebreaks on road reserves is the primary focus of the burning program each year. Other roads are assessed and burnt on a case by case basis. Council issues permits to burn to brigades as a priority and encourages CFA brigades to undertake burning of roadsides. Council relies entirely on the volunteers of local CFA brigades to carry out this important work.
7. Why doesn't Council clean up their roadsides? I think they are a fire risk.
Cleaning up of roadsides to remove fire risk is often touted as a solution to many community fire hazards. Certainly roadsides with vegetation; either native or introduced will carry fire. With less than 2% of land in of the Shire held in road reserves, it forms only a small percentage of the total land that can be subject to fire. Removal of all fine fuels and trees from roadsides is simply not feasible nor desirable. However, Council slashes along the edge of all sealed roads to reduce the likelihood of fires starting on roadsides.
Council's focus is on reducing the fire hazard on private land immediately around resident's assets (your home and outbuildings). This is the most effective way of reducing the hazard of fire in our community by ensuring residents and their homes are adequately prepared for fire.
8. Why doesn't Council allow removal of fallen timber for firewood from road reserves?
Removal of firewood; either fallen or standing timber, from roadsides is not permitted. Removal of firewood sized timber does remove fuel but this size fuel contributes least to fire intensity (radiant heat, flame and ember attack). The major contributor to fire intensity are fine fuels; leaves, twigs and sticks smaller than 5mm (less than the size of your little finger). Generally, people who collect firewood do not want to remove or deal with these fine fuels and these are left behind thereby contributing to an increase in fire intensity.
9. Council needs to remove trees from roadsides so I don't get trapped at my property. The road to my property is my escape route.
Until there is a significant shift in approach from fire authorities across the country, the message will remain the same. Roads are not last minute escape routes. Even if all the trees are removed and fine fuels managed on the roadside, the propensity for people to leave at the last minute will still lead to traffic congestion, collisions, confusion and disorientation possibly with tragic consequences. You should ensure that you leave early as per CFA messaging to allow yourself time to tackle any delays or unexpected events.
The message from fire authorities is:
Prepare - Prepare your family and home in readiness for bushfire. Residents who have a written fire plan stand a better chance of surviving a bushfire event.
Act - Put your fire plan into action.
Survive - Protection of life is of paramount importance.
The only way to guarantee your survival from wildfire is not to be there when the fire occurs. The safest refuge for residents caught unexpectedly by fire is in their well prepared home, not on the road in their car or even worse, trying to escape on foot.
Check out the CFA website at www.cfa.vic.gov.au or contact the CFA for more advice.