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Fire prevention

The 2018/2019 Fire Danger Period is expected to start in late October, early November 2018.

Free green waste disposal period

Shire residents can dispose of green waste for free at the Castlemaine and Maldon waste facilities from Saturday 20 October to Sunday 4 November. Green waste includes grass clippings, wood and tree branches less than 10cm in diameter. The waste must be free of rubbish and declared noxious weeds. Residents are encouraged to use this opportunity to prepare their property for the fire season. For more information on our waste facilities and hours of operation visit our waste page.

Council has an obligation under the Country Fire Authority Act to undertake fire prevention measures within the municipality and ensure its residents take every opportunity to clean up their property to minimise any fire hazards.

Burning off

Residents wishing to burn off need to adhere to Council Local Laws and CFA regulations as well as register their burn off with ESTA by calling 1800 668 511 or by visiting the website www.esta.vic.gov.au/news/register-your-burn.

Residents whose properties are 0.2 hectare (0.5 acres) or under are only able to burn off on a Tuesday or Saturday and must comply with CFA regulations and Council Local Laws relating to burning off.

Make sure you adhere to CFA regulations and Council Local Laws.

How can people plan for the fire danger period?

It is important to plan ahead in the event of a fire so you know exactly what to do in the time of crisis.

You should:

• Develop fire plans for your family or business and discuss the plans with your neighbours.
• Think about family, friends or neighbours who may need help preparing to leave early. Talk to them about when they're going to leave, where they're going to go, and how you can help.
• Decide in advance when you will leave high risk areas on days of severe, extreme or code red fire danger – leaving early is the safest option.
• Check warnings daily – make sure you understand the levels of warnings and what they mean.
• Know and understand the triggers for leaving before fire threatens and plan where to go – don’t wait for an official warning as it may be too late.
• Attend a local fire safety community meeting or join a local CFA Community Fireguard group.
• Download the Vic Emergency app onto your phone for access to timely and relevant warnings for your area.
• Pack an emergency kit of essentials. This should include important documents, medications, a mobile phone, torch, battery operated radio, money and clothes so you can leave easily before a fire starts.
• Be prepared for power failure in extreme weather conditions.
• Check your insurance.

Key documents

What is your emergency plan? This guide has all the key information about preparing an emergency plan
Create an emergency plan - This guide is an easy English version with all the key information about preparing an emergency plan
Be prepared for bushfire - This guide is an easy English version with all the key information about preparing for bushfire
Be prepared for grassfire - This guide is an easy English version with all the key information about preparing for grassfire

The CFA website has other resources on preparing for bushfires and fire restrictions. For more information visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au.

For concerns on fire hazards on Crown Land contact the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning on 133 677.

Mount Alexander Shire is in the North Central Total Fire Ban District.

What should people do before the Fire Danger Period?

As summer approaches it is important that all residents are aware of their own responsibilities and that they take action to help mitigate the impact of bushfire on our community. Clearing rubbish, cutting grasses and clearing gutters around your home is a good place to start.

Fine fuels such as fallen leaves and branches, long dry grass, weeds and some shrubs that are 6mm in diameter or less are the most common hazard. These can act as kindling for a fire by providing easy ignition and allowing it to spread easily.

Make sure you:

• Mow or slash grass below 75mm on your residential property
• Remove leaves from gutters and stacks of wood or branches from near your home, along with any other flammable materials like rubbish and fallen branches.
• Check your insurance.
• Relocate woodpiles away from your home.

Rural property holders should also:

• Create a 10 to 20 metre wide fire break around the boundary of your property by cutting or slashing grass and weeds below 75mm. This is particularly important for boundaries of paddocks that adjoin residential and woodlands.
• Cut or slash grass on a 30 metre radius around your house and other assets (including your neighbours’)

Everyone has a role to play in fire prevention. How you prepare your property contributes to the protection of lives and properties from the threat of fire.

The CFA has some excellent resources available on its website.

Preparing your property

You can reduce the risk to your home caused by a bushfire by taking the time to prepare your property well before the bushfire season starts.

1. Clearing grass and vegetation
2. Slash grass and keep it under 75mm high
3. Rake up and remove dry grass, leaves, twigs and loose bark
4. Keep gutters clean of leaf litter
5. Remove any rubbish or material that is likely to cause, maintain or promote a fire
6. Remove all noxious weeds from your land
7. Locate woodpiles away from the house
8. Place metal flyscreens or window shutters over windows
9. Prepare your bushfire survival plan

For more information about how to prepare your property download a copy of the CFA Fire Ready Kits. If you want to burn off, check the current fire restrictions and burning off requirements

Removing trees and shrubs for fire prevention

Depending on where you live there may be exemptions under the 10/30 rule, 10/50 rule and fence line clearing rules. Before removing vegetation always check with Councils Planning Department on 54711 700.

Property inspections

Prior to and during the fire season, the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer (MFPO), inspects properties within the shire to ensure owners have complied with the Act and removed any fire hazards on their property. Failure to reduce or clear fire hazards may lead to fire prevention orders being issued. Non-compliance of these orders may lead to heavy penalties being imposed.

The first round of inspections are now underway.

If you are concerned about fire hazards at a particular property, you can submit a service request via the home page. Please provide as much detail as possible about the location of the property and the hazard.

Roadside slashing program

Council's annual slashing program has been reviewed in consultation with the Country Fire Authority (CFA) to ensure strategic firebreaks are in place and emergency vehicle access is maintained. Our shire is facing significant grass and vegetation growth following higher than average rainfalls throughout spring 2016. The annual slashing program started in November 2016 and Council's Works and Parks and Gardens units have been out on a daily basis to cut grass on target roadsides and public land.

The roadside slashing program map identifies the strategic fire breaks that are being cut as part of the roadside slashing program.

Residents are reminded that under Local Law 3, an owner or occupier of property in a residential area must ensure that the nature strip immediately adjoining the property is kept and maintained in good condition and order so as not to be unsightly or detrimental to the general amenity of the neighbourhood.

Burning off during the Fire Danger Period

During the Fire Danger Period burning off is not permitted unless you have a permit to burn. Applications are considered on a case by case basis but generally limited to agricultural purposes. To discuss obtaining a permit please contact Council's Municipal Fire Prevention Officer on 03 5471 1700 or go to the permit application form.

Burning off outside the Fire Danger Period

If your land is 2000 square metres or less you must obtain a permit to burn, unless:
1. The fire is a barbeque or campfire that complies with the Country Fire Authority Act 1958; or
2. An incinerator on any Tuesday and Saturday in compliance with the Country Fire Authority Act 1958.

If your land is more than 2000 square metres you do not require a permit to light a fire in the open air.
Prior to lighting any fire you should ensure:
• Any combustible material is cleared at least 3 metres in all directions from around the fire
• A connected hose or 20 litre container of water is available to ensure the fire does not escape
• An adult or responsible person must be in attendance at all times until the fire is extinguished
• The fire does not create a nuisance to your neighbours or a visibility hazard to road users
• Any offensive, noxious or toxic material is not being burnt

You are required to register your burn off.

Visit the permits page to download the Local Law 3 application form to light an incinerator or fire in the open.

More contacts

In an emergency always call 000.

Call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on 1800 240 667:

• For information during and after major bushfires
• For information on planned burns, if people see or smell smoke
• To offer information to householders, landowners and small business to reduce bushfire risk

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