Fire risk action

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Fire risk action

SOUTH Gippslanders are reducing the risk of fire across the region this summer.
South Gippsland Shire Council issued 100 less fire prevention notices this summer than in 2012-13, ordering people to mow grass and tidy properties in the lead-up to the fire danger period.
Bass Coast Shire Council gave 70 fire prevention notices – on a par with previous years – ordering people to reduce fire hazards posing a risk to life.
Matthew Patterson, South Gippsland council’s manager regulatory services, said council issued 1200 fire prevention notices demanding people clean their properties by December 8.
“It’s positive to see an eight per cent reduction in the number of fire prevention notices we have had to issue,” he said.
“The worst case scenario for a person not complying with their notice by early 2014 would be receiving an infringement ($1444) and having to pay council’s cost associated with clearing their property.”
Council inspected all properties in townships and around the perimeter of townships, with the first round of inspections undertaken during the week of November 11–15.
“Owners of properties that had long grass or stockpiled combustible materials were issued with a notice requiring the grass to be slashed, mowed and stockpiled and combustible materials removed,” Mr Patterson said.
Once orders were issued, council undertook a second round of inspections to ensure property owners complied.
“Approximately 300 owners did not comply with the fire prevention notices. Council will now organise for these properties to be slashed/mowed and stockpiled combustible materials removed early in the new year,” Mr Patterson said.
“Council typically finds that come the new year, around 70 per cent of these properties will comply as owners undertake these works during the Christmas break.”
The State Government raised the fine for fire prevention infringement notices from $282 in 2011-12 to $1444 this financial year.
Late last year, council focused on inspecting fire safety measures in tourist accommodation buildings, including hotels and motels, and also aged care accommodation.
“Based on the fire safety measures inspections that we have been doing, I generally find the outside areas are well maintained and it’s unlikely that they would have been issued with a fire prevention notice,” Mr Patterson said.
Council did receive a complaint about long grass around the site of the former Masonic Hall in Leongatha, but Mr Patterson said the land had since been mowed.
Bass Coast’s acting community and economic development director, Antoinette Mitchell, said council’s emergency management team began fire inspections in identified high fire risk areas at the start of November.
She said each fire prevention notice was accompanied by a letter explaining the implications of non-compliance and the costs passed on if council completes the compulsory works.
“There is a bit more grass around this year than last year and while it’s wet at the moment, after a few hot days it will dry out,” Ms Mitchell said.
A number of blocks had been cleared of potential hazards through discussions between property owners or occupiers during November and December, without the need to issue notices or fines.
“Council has an ongoing communications plan supporting CFA messages around preparing for the fire season and believes property owners are taking personal responsibility to complete work to reduce hazards without the need to issue a notice,” Ms Mitchell said.
A Local Law Notice to Comply issued by community safety rangers addresses such issues as long grass in built-up areas.
“Inspections by rangers happen year round, not only during the fire season, with hundreds of notices issued,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Property owners are urged to maintain their property in line with local law at all times.”
Notices to Comply allow 14 days to complete the task. A council ranger will then inspect and if the task is not completed, an infringement is sent with a letter advising council will engage a contractor in seven days to tidy the property at the owner’s expense.

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Posted by on Jan 7 2014. Filed under Featured, News. 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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