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Prepare, leave early and live

LAST week’s sweltering conditions served as a timely reminder for people to reduce the risk of bushfire on their properties.
Fire restrictions now ban the lighting of fires in the open air without a permit.
Restrictions are imposed on, but not limited to, barbeques and camp fires, burning off, incinerators, farming and road machinery and commercial catering activities including fundraisers for charitable causes.
To assist with preparing properties, South Gippsland Shire Council’s annual green waste amnesty ran until December 31, when transfer stations took green waste for free.
Leongatha CFA captain Dale Carruthers said, “There is a zero tolerance to people burning off and lighting fires unlawfully without permits. The police will be called and charges could be laid, with fines around the $17,000 mark.
“Recurring issues occur mainly before the start and just after restrictions are enforced. Other issues centre around people seeing smoke and not knowing what it is before calling 000, sending us on a wild goose chase.
“People need to follow the Can I or Can’t I brochure available on the CFA website.”
South Gippsland Shire Council’s manager regulatory services Jamie Thorley stressed the importance of people preparing their properties for a possible bushfire.
“Local Laws inspected approximately 1800 properties last season and issued 850 fire prevention notices directing land owners to reduce the risk of bushfire fuel from their property,” Mr Thorley said.
“There’s a really positive reduction year-on-year on the number of property owners’ failing to undertake proper fire prevention measures. To keep this positive momentum going, we need our community’s help to ensure their property does not become a fire risk. Otherwise, there is a real threat to lives and property.”
Although these warnings are repeated yearly, half of the community at risk of bushfire still do not perceive it as real.
A recent CFA Bushfire Community Survey emphasises this, undertaken annually since 2009-10, and revealed 52 percent of Victorians living in areas at high risk of bushfire think the risk to their home is moderate, minor or non-existent.
CFA acting chief officer Stephanie Rotarangi said Victorians who were underestimating the risk or who left it too late to leave were risking the safety of themselves and their families.
“If rainfall trends continue, this season will be in line with Victoria’s driest seasons increasing the risk of bushfire,” Ms Rotarangi said.
“Some areas of the state, particularly in Gippsland, are extremely dry and will need many weeks of above-average rain before drought-stressed plants start to recover.”
Alarmingly, results of the survey also reveal that only one in 10 Victorians living in areas at high risk of bushfire said they would leave early on days of high fire danger, the lowest proportion in the past seven years.
“Leaving early is the safest option to protect yourself and your family, and it means leaving the area before a fire starts – not when you can see flames or smell smoke. Leaving early means avoiding panic, being trapped, making the wrong choices and risking serious injury or death,” Ms Rotarangi said.
“Victoria’s environment and climate means we live in one of the most fire prone regions in the world. Therefore the only way that you can guarantee your safety during a bushfire is not being in it.”
In order to prepare your property and minimize possible destruction, the CFA urged people to move furniture, woodpiles and mulch away from windows, decks and eaves; prune tree branches so they were not overhanging roofs or touching walls; keeping grass shorter than 10cm; regularly removing leaves and twigs, and not having plants higher than 10cm in front of windows or glass doors.
Ensure your home and contents insurance is current, including a level of cover in line with current building standards and regulations; deciding where you will go with pets; making sure you understand local school policies on code red days; creating an emergency kit and keeping extra batteries on hand for radios, laptops and telephones.
The Leongatha CFA is always in need of volunteers with about 30 currently on the books. Members of the public can make inquiries via their Facebook page, the CFA website or call the fire station on 5662 3240.

Fire season: fire restrictions are now in force for the South Gippsland Shire. At the Leongatha Country Fire Authority (CFA) headquarters are volunteer firefighters, from left, Leigh Foster, Dean Pitts, captain Dale Carruthers and Andy Kay.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=27077

Posted by on Jan 8 2019. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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