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Plan and prepare during CFA’s Fire Action Week

Published on 10 October 2018
  • Community

This week is Fire Action Week! So now is the time for Maroondah residents to start preparing for the upcoming fire season.

Fire Action Week, running from 7-14 October 2018, is Victoria’s annual fire planning and preparation week, signalling the start of the annual Summer Fire Campaign in partnership with emergency services agencies.

Right now, forecasts show that there is potential for an earlier and longer fire season in Victoria.

Record low rainfall in parts of Victoria is forcing the CFA to consider bringing forward the start of its bushfire season, with property owners being warned to prepare for “an extreme summer of fires”.

For the first time, fire restrictions will be introduced in some parts of the state as early as this month.

CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington said with regions including East Metro experiencing high levels of landscape dryness during spring, conditions could worsen going into summer.

“If we don’t get good rain, the conditions will be a problem over summer,” he warned.

“Our fire managers and fire behaviour analysts will be closely monitoring landscape dryness over coming months, which will be an important factor when considering upgrading or downgrading risk messaging depending on rainfall.

“Over the coming months, we’ll be formally engaging with regions, districts and brigades, but it is important we all start to focus now on preparing for the season ahead.

“We need to be best prepared to safely protect the community, and each other,” he said.

How to plan and prepare for the fire season

Maroondah Councillor Rob Steane said the awareness week was a great opportunity for Maroondah residents to find out more about the fire risk in their area, safeguard their property, and decide well in advance what to do in the event of a grass or bush fire.

“Take the time now to prepare your bushfire survival plan, including what you would do before, during and leading up to high-risk days, as well as having a back-up plan just in case. Tell your friends and family what you plan to do in the event of a fire. And don’t forget about your pets or the risk of regular house fires.

“If you live or work close to grassland, parks or paddocks, you could be at greater risk of fire this summer. Leaving early on high-risk days before a fire starts – not when you can see or smell smoke – is the only way to guarantee you and your family’s safety.

“Remember, you won’t always receive a warning or be told what to do if a fire breaks out. Don’t wait and see, it’s up to you to be well-prepared, know what to do and take action,” Cr Steane said.

The CFA website is a practical resource and offers advice on preparing a Bushfire Survival Plan.

“Make sure you also know where to check Fire Danger Ratings (Vic Emergency website and app). Over summer, you’ll need to check the ratings daily to understand the fire risk in your area. Remember, as ratings increase, so does the risk of fire,” Cr Steane said.

“It’s up to all of us to stay informed by using more than one source of information, understanding the three levels of warnings, what they mean and what you should do.

“And plan for all scenarios – what will you do if your car won’t start, the wind changes direction, roads are blocked, someone is hurt or people aren’t where you expect them to be?”

“Even if you plan to leave early, preparing your property means minimising the chance of property damage during a fire.

“Embers are one of the most common causes of homes burning down during a bushfire, even if the fire front doesn’t reach the property. Remove leaves, twigs and all flammable items from around your home, continually doing so throughout summer.

“Making informed decisions is vital to your safety during a fire. Now is the best time to understand your fire risk and get prepared, not leaving it to when a fire breaks out,” he said.

Warnings, incidents and planned burns are now displayed on the Vic Emergency website

Fire Action checklist

This Fire Action Week, follow some simple planning and preparation tips to make sure you’re ready for the upcoming summer:

  • Check the fire risk where you live – Am I at risk?
  • Download the VicEmergency app ‘FireReady’ to your mobile device
  • Visit the CFA website to check warnings and make sure you understand the three levels of warning and what they mean.
  • Start checking Fire Danger Ratings daily
  • Tune into ABC local radio, commercial and designated community radio stations or Sky News TV, or phone the VicEmergency Hotline 1800 226 226. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment, you can contact VicEmergency Hotline through National Relay Service on 1800 555 677. Warnings are also available on VicEmergency’s Twitter (@vicemergency) and Facebook, and CFA’s Twitter and (@CFA_Updates) or Facebook.
  • Pack an emergency kit of essentials. This could include important documents, medications, a mobile phone, torch, battery operated radio, money and clothes so you can leave early before a fire starts.
  • Talk to your household and neighbours about how you’ll know when to leave and where to go to stay safe.
  • Do you have family, friends or neighbours who 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.
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