Make fire safety a priority this weekend
With tens of thousands of Victorians taking the opportunity to turn this weekend into a long weekend authorities are urging people to play it safe when it comes to using campfires, barbecues and recreational fires.
Campfires have already caused 270 bushfires on public land this fire season, which is more than half the fires responded to by Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) crews.
At least 91 of these unattended campfires sparked bushfires over the Christmas and New Year period.
Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers have also detected more than 180 unattended campfires during patrols at state forest campsites since the start of November, with 29 infringements and 54 warnings issued.
Chris Hardman, Chief Fire Officer, Forest Fire Management Victoria said just one spark from an unattended campfire can have devastating impacts.
"Never leave a campfire unattended, never light one on a Total Fire Ban day and always make sure you have enough water to fully extinguish a campfire before you leave.”
CFA Chief Officer, Jason Heffernan, said with fire restrictions in place across nearly all of Victoria, it’s especially important that Victorians know what the rules are where they live or travel to these last few weeks of the summer holidays.
“It’s also very important that Victorians stay informed and check Fire Danger Ratings every day so that they can make good decisions about activities they plan to undertake whether it’s enjoying a barbecue or lighting a campfire," said Chief Officer Heffernan.
"While CFA and our partner agencies Fire Rescue Victoria and Forest Fire Management Victoria are prepared to protect Victorians communities this fire season, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires.
“Expect any escaped or uncontrolled fire you start to be investigated by CFA and Victoria Police.”
All of Victoria, except East Gippsland, is now in Fire Danger Period which means a written permit is required to burn off grass, undergrowth, weeds or other vegetation.
Barbeques and fires for cooking and warmth do not require a permit but must be lit in properly constructed fireplaces.
On the spot fines of $545 apply to those breaching campfire rules or a maximum penalty of up to $18,174 if the matter is prosecuted in court.
Unattended campfires should be reported to 136 186 or call 000 to report a bushfire.
For more information about rules in state forests, including campfires and vehicle use, visit https://www.vic.gov.au/rules-in-state-forests