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 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. Fire Prevention Notice FAQs.
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. is it Council’s responsibility to clean up the 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.