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Frequently Asked Questions

Question Answer
When is the Fire Danger Period? The Country Fire Authority (CFA) introduces Fire Restrictions (Fire Danger Period) for all private land in Victoria over the summer period each year. The Fire Danger Period start and end dates change yearly, however normally operate from approximately November to April. Declaration dates can be found on the CFA website: www.cfa.vic.gov.au.
Why does Council issue Fire Prevention Notices? Under the Country Fire Authority Act 1958, Council has a legal obligation to reduce the risk of fire for the community. MFPO’s have the power to inspect and to issue Fire Prevention Notices within the municipality. However, there are no guarantees of personal or property safety when it comes to bushfire. The works detailed on the Fire Prevention Notice are designed to reduce radiant heat, fire intensity and ember attack and minimise direct flame impact on you or your neighbour’s assets. They are consistent with CFA guidelines for protecting your home.
Why did I receive a Fire Prevention Notice? Council’s Municipal Fire Prevention Officers (MFPO”s) have recently assessed your property for fire hazards and determined that you need to reduce fuel loads on your property to reduce the potential fire risk.
What do I have to do? You are required to clean up and reduce fine fuels such as bark, leaves, twigs and long grass either as a fire break or the entire property as directed by an MFPO on the Notice. Reducing the fine fuels assists to reduce the intensity of a fire if it occurred, as fine fuels are responsible for the major increase in fire intensity and spread. The required works must be carried out by the completion date and you must then maintain your property in this state for the duration of the Fire Danger Period.
Can I remove trees and shrubs? The Notice does not authorise you to remove shrubs and trees. If you wish to remove trees and shrubs, contact Council’s Planning Department for advice.
What does it mean by reduce fine fuel? All plants provide fuel for a bushfire. However, it is the fine fuels (those less than a finger's width, approximately 6mm and less) that contribute most to the heat and speed of a fire. Fine fuel includes dry grass, leaves, twigs and loose bark but does not include larger logs or branches. Minimising fine fuels reduces the heat of a fire and its ability to spread across the ground and up into the tree-tops.
But I’ve just cut my grass! There is a small delay between an MFPO inspecting your property for fire hazards and the issuing of Fire Prevention Notice. If you have already carried out what is required on the Notice, then you don’t need to worry. Just ensure you maintain your property in this state for the duration of the Fire Danger Period.
What if I am unable to complete the works myself? You may appoint a contractor of your choice to complete the specified work at your cost council is not responsible for works on private property.
I am having difficulty getting the work completed by the deadline, can I have an extension? Give the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer a call to discuss your particular situation. In most cases an additional week may be considered but we must hear from you before the completion date on your notice.
Why won't the council slash my block? Council manages a very large area of land including roadsides and recreation areas and is not able to provide a service for private land, this is the responsibility of the land owner.
I have a property that I think is a potential fire hazard, what should I do? Contact the customer services of the Council with the address and details of the hazard and they can advise the Municipal Fire Officer Prevention Officer. If a hazard exists it is likely the property has already received a fire prevention notice.
I am concerned about my neighbour’s fire hazard Please contact Council if there is a property of concern to you. MFPO’s may inspect the property and provide the owner with a Fire Prevention Notice if required. Council’s fire hazard inspection program is focused on reducing fuel loads immediately around assets such as houses and outbuildings. If the fire hazard you are concerned about on a neighbouring property falls outside this area, it is unlikely a Fire Prevention Notice will be issued.
What do I do if I object to my notice? Contact the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer in writing within seven days of the service of the notice stating the grounds of objection as per the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 Part 3 Section 41B (1).
What will happen if I don’t comply with the Notice? MFPO’s conduct follow up inspections on properties that have received a Fire Prevention Notice to ensure the works have been completed and maintained throughout the fire danger period. If the works required have not been carried out to the satisfaction of the MFPO by the due date, you may receive an on the spot infringement notice of 10 penalty units ($1610). The maximum penalty for failing to comply with the notice is 120 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months or both. A contractor may then be engaged to carry out the required works and the costs will be passed on to you with additional administration fees. Council may not contact you prior to undertaking works once the Fire Prevention Notice has been issued.
Do I have to remove the cut grass from my fire break? Yes, for a fire break to be most effective the cut material must be removed. This can either be raked off the break away from the fence line or for large blocks it may be possible to bale the grass and store off the break.
I’m planning to cut my paddock for hay or putting stock on that paddock If it is your intent to cut your paddock for hay, carry out other works, or put stock on your paddock, call the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer and inform us of your intentions before the completion date on your Notice. You may still be required to cut a firebreak or complete other works as directed by the MFPO.
My roadside is a fire hazard. What can I do? Council’s fire hazard inspection program focuses on protecting your house and outbuildings by providing a fuel reduced area around these assets as per CFA guidelines. You must have permission from Council before removing native vegetation from a roadside.
Burn Off Permits During the Fire Danger Period, residents are required to obtain a permit to burn in the open air. Burn Off permit conditions are set by the CFA. For more information please contact either the CFA or Council.
What about snakes living in the long grass! Snakes in the country are a fact of life. They are a protected species and cannot be harmed. To protect you and your family, ensure you maintain a safe area around your house and outbuildings as snakes are attracted to areas that provide shelter and food such as frogs and mice. Try to remove possible attractions for snakes and mice such as wood piles, stock feed or hay and maintain open areas where children play, well away from long grass. If a snake enters your home, please contact the Department of Economic Development on 136 186 or a licenced snake handler for advice.
Why should I encourage native grasses to grow on my property instead of introduced species? Native grasses generate about 10 per cent of the fuel load of introduced pasture grasses such as Phalaris and Wild Oats. If you encourage the retention and regeneration of native grasses, it reduces the introduced grasses to grow which create a much greater fire risk. This can only be achieved if you allow the native grass time to re-seed.
What about the Crown Land/Parks land behind my property? Council is not empowered to issue Fire Prevention Notices to statutory bodies such as State Government agencies. It is suggested you contact the Department of Economic Development on 13 61 86 and inform them of your concerns.

Fire Prevention FAQ


Contact
Customer Service
111 Brown Street
Hamilton Vic 3300
Phone 03 5573 0444
Email council@sthgrampians.vic.gov.au

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