Lighting fires

Fire Danger Period

The Fire Danger Period for the Gannawarra Shire usually occurs between November and May each yearwith restrictions on the lighting of fires to be in place at this time.

The 2023/24 Fire Danger Period for the Gannawarra Shire came into effect at 1am Monday, 6 November 2023.

For burn-offs prior to, and after, the declared Fire Danger Period, ensure you comply with Gannawarra Shire Council Local Laws, inform your adjoining neighbours and always register your burn with VicFire on 1800 668 511.

For more information visit the Country Fire Authority's Can I or Can't I? page, which can be viewed by clicking on the image below:

FDP.JPG

For all current information relating to fires please visit the www.cfa.vic.gov.au  or contact your local CFA Office in Kerang on (03) 5450 3406.

Fire Prevention Notices

Council's Local Laws Officers/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) are issued with a Fire Prevention Notice instructing the landholder to carry out 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 contact Council’s Local Laws Officers or Municipal Fire Prevention Officer on (03) 5450 9333.

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.

Municipal Fire Prevention Officers 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 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 after receiving a Fire Prevention Notice?

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 the instructions 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.

What will happen if I don't comply with the Fire Prevention Notice?

Municipal Fire Prevention Officers 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 officer's satisfaction by the due date, you may receive an on the spot infringement notice of 10 penalty units. To learn more about penalty units and their current value, please click here.

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.

What do I do if I disagree with the notice?

Contact the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer to discuss your particular situation before the completion date on your Notice

 

Can I receive an extension to complete the work to my property?

If you are having difficulty completing the work outlined on your Fire Prevention Notice by the published deadline, please phone the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer on (03) 5450 9333 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.

I've already cut the grass on my property. What do I do?

There is usually a small delay between a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer 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. All Council asks is that your property does not feature fire hazards duration of the Fire Danger Period.

 

I'm planning to cut my paddock for hay, or will be putting stock on that paddock. What do I do?

Please call the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer before the completion date on your notice and inform us of if you are planning to cut your paddock for hay, carry out other works, or put stock on your paddock. You may still be required to cut a firebreak or complete other works as directed by the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer.

I'm concerned regarding snakes living in the long grass on my property. What should I do?

Snakes 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.

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.

I'm concerned my neighbour's property is a fire hazard. What can I do?

If you are concerned regarding a property's fire risk, please contact Council on (03) 5450 9333. Municipal Fire Prevention Officers may inspect the property and provide the owner with a Fire Prevention Notice if required.

Please note that Council’s fire hazard inspection program focuses 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 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. If you have any concerns, please contact the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action on 136 186.

Who can I contact for more information regarding preparing my property for fire?

The Country Fire Authority has some excellent resources available to assist residents in preparing their homes for fire. To view its latest resources, please click here.

 

 

Can I light a fire in my backyard?

Community Amenity Local Law 2023

Part 2 – Your Property and Animals

Division 1 - Your Property

Section 16 - Open air burning

16.1 A Person must not, on Private Land under 0.5 hectares, light a fire or allow a fire to remain alight in the open air, including an Incinerator.

16.2 A Person must not burn or cause to be burnt, or allow to remain alight in the open air, including in an Incinerator or other similar device, in the Municipal District any:

   (a) any offensive materials; or

   (b) any materials that cause offensive emissions of smoke and odour to enter any neighbouring residential property.

 16.3 The following matters are exempt from this clause:

   (a) a fire lit for domestic cooking purposes in a permanent of portable Barbeque, a wood fire oven, copper stand burner or other similar cooking device.

   (b)  a properly constructed fireplace including a metal brazier, chiminea or similar type structure lit for heating purposes.

Schedule 15 Fire Prevention Notice

Explanatory Note for a Schedule 15 Fire Prevention Notice

Power and Purpose

The municipal fire prevention officer of the council has the power under section 41 of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 to issue this notice.
The purpose of this notice is to require you take the necessary steps to protect your life and property, and that of your neighbours, from the threat of fire.

Effect of not complying with this notice

If you do not comply with this notice within the time allowed or you do not lodge an objection (see below):

• The municipal fire prevention officer may arrange for the council, a fire brigade or other contractor to enter upon your land and take the steps specified in this notice.
The council will then send you an account for the cost of taking these steps. If you do not pay the account, the council can take you to court to recover the cost including interest on the money owed (see sections 225 and 232 Local Government Act 1989.)

In addition:

• The municipal fire prevention officer may serve you with a fire prevention infringement notice (“infringement notice”) for failing to comply with this notice and requiring you to pay a penalty of 10 penalty units within a specified time.
(Not less than 28 days after the infringement notice has been served.)
Failure to pay the infringement penalty by the due date may result in further enforcement action being taken and may incur further costs.

Or

• Proceedings may be taken against you for a failure to comply with this notice. If proceedings are taken, you can be fined up to 50 penalty units or imprisoned for a period of up to 12 months (see section 41D(1) Country Fire Authority Act 1958.)

Objection

You can object to this notice if you wish (see section 41B Country Fire Authority Act 1958,) by lodging your objection with the municipal fire prevention officer within 7 days of the service of this notice, stating your grounds of objection.
Within 14 days of lodging an objection, the municipal fire prevention officer must confirm or vary this notice (specifying the new time within which you must comply) or withdraw this notice.

Appeals

If you have lodged an objection and the municipal fire prevention officer fails to confirm, vary or withdraw the notice within 14 days, or you are not satisfied with a confirmation or variation of the notice, you may appeal (see section 41C Country Fire Authority Act 1958.)

Appeals must:

1. Be in writing;

2. Be lodged with the Chief Officer, Country Fire Authority, 8 Lakeside Drive, East Burwood, 3151, within 7 days of the 14 day period described above, or within 7 days of the confirmation or variation (whichever is earlier);

3. Fully state the grounds of your appeal.

The Chief Officer (or a delegate) will then consider whether your appeal is valid.
To do this, an investigation will be made of your case. In the course of the investigation, an officer of the Country Fire Authority may visit you to assess the matter.
When considering your appeal the Chief Officer (or a delegate) will take into account all relevant circumstances, including the proper needs of conservation, and any alternative means of addressing the threat of fire.
After considering the appeal, the Chief Officer (or a delegate) must either confirm, vary or cancel the notice.
You will be notified in writing of the decision.