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2016 Fire preparation: your questions answered

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Date: 
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 - 12:15pm
Category: 
Environment

Council recently commenced Fire Prevention Notice inspections and this has caused residents to ask some good questions about how Council is preparing for the upcoming fire season.

Here we answer some of the more frequent questions, and provide some handy links and resources for residents.

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What is Council’s fire prevention slashing schedule? Has it started?

Council’s pre-summer roadside fire prevention slashing outside township areas commenced in early November and as usual, will proceed from the south end of the Shire to the north. This program aims to address road safety (i.e. sight lines), amenity and fire prevention issues. Council tries to balance the need for cutting with the grass curing so that we only need to do a single cut.

It is important to note that Council only slashes Council owned and maintained land in this program – when land requiring slashing is owned by landowners (private or business), Council’s appropriate action is to issue a Fire Prevention Notice – you can learn more about them here. Other land managers like VicRoads, Victrack and State Government departments have their own pre-summer fire hazard reduction programs on their own land.

Within township areas, where visual attractiveness is important, cutting of grass is carried out as per Council Policy 6.3. Areas that are not addressed under Council policy are picked up as part of Councils pre-summer roadside fire prevention slashing program.

Why doesn’t Council do more slashing?

With a limited budget and extensive distance and area to cover, the Council pre-summer roadside fire prevention slashing program aims to balance the need for cutting with grass curing with the aim of only needing to cut once thereby reducing the cost to Council and the community. This means that we try to hold off as late as possible in the season while not compromising road and fire safety before getting started. This may not meet some community expectations, particularly around the visual attractiveness or safety issue of long grass in spring when fire hazard is not such a concern. With township maintenance under Council Policy, the program aims to provide for a high level of visual attractiveness through the provision of several cuts spread throughout the year.

Who is responsible for what – when is Council responsible for slashing?

Council is responsible for the management of grass for amenity, safety and fire hazard on land it owns or manages. It uses its own staff and contractors to undertake work as required. Township maintenance is carried out as per Council Policy 6.3. Maintenance of road reserves and other Council land outside township areas is carried out under Council’s pre-summer roadside fire prevention slashing program which commences in November.

Council can also issue Fire Prevention Notices (FPN) on private landholders (whether that is an individual or a business) instructing them to carry out fuel management works; mainly grass cutting to reduce fire hazards. Non-compliance with a FPN can result in a fine in excess of $1500 being issued.

Other land managers like VicRoads, Victrack and State Government departments have their own pre-summer fire hazard reduction programs on their own land.

What’s happening with Fire Prevention Notices (FPNs)?

Council issued approximately 730 FPNs this year, which is higher than last year. Recipients of a FPN have to undertake the works required on the Notice by the due date or risk being fined – non-compliance with the notice can result in a fine in excess of $1500 being issued.

We have also created a quick video which helps explain the importance of adhering to a FPN if you get one – you can watch it here.

What about snakes?

Snakes in the country are a fact of life so please ensure you maintain a safe area around your house and outbuildings. Snakes are attracted to the places we live as they provide shelter and food such as frogs and mice that are also attracted to our homes. Try to remove attractions for snakes from your property such as wood piles, stock feed and hay and maintain open areas where children play free of long grass.

There is nothing we can do about the snakes as they are protected species. However, we will inspect the property and if the long grass poses a fire hazard, we will issue the owner with a Fire Prevention Notice directing them to cut the grass as appropriate.

What if I want to burn off grass, stubble, weeds, undergrowth or other vegetation?

In Golden Plains Shire, no permit is required to burn off outside of the declared Fire Danger Period. So in the lead up to summer and before the declared Fire Danger Period, residents are able to burn off piles of vegetation or grass without a permit. Residents should notify the CFA on 1800 668 511 and ensure their burn is safe and won’t impact neighbours. You can also ask your local CFA brigade to help you with your burn off if you are unsure whether your burn off will be safe.

During the declared Fire Danger Period, private residents cannot burn off in Golden Plains Shire. Council will issue permits to local CFA brigades to burn off during the Fire Danger Period. This allows brigades to burn off private land, reserves and roadsides to reduce fuel loads. Council encourages and facilitates this important work by CFA volunteers through rapid turnaround of permit requests and reopening fire breaks on roadsides each season.

What should I do for my property?

Landholders should ensure that they have managed fine fuels around their property in the lead up to the Fire Danger Period. Fines fuels include leaves, twigs, bark and grass – any fuel with a diameter smaller than 6mm. Larger fuels such as firewood size timber are not considered a fire hazard per se as it is fine fuels that contribute most to fire intensity and spread.

What should I do if I have spotted an issue?

Let us know by getting in touch – you can report an issue online, call us on 5220 7111, email enquiries@gplains.vic.gov.au or drop into one of our Customer Service Centres.

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Page Last Updated:

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 - 11:49am

 

Council acknowledges the traditional Wadawurrung owners of this land. Council pays its respects to Wadawurrung Elders both past and present and extends that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who are part of Golden Plains Shire.