Hume City exists on the urban fringe, which means many suburbs back on to conservation areas, such as grasslands and woodlands. These habitat types have evolved with fire in the landscape with many native plant species needing fire to regenerate.
Council receives a number of reports each year from residents concerned that conservation areas pose a fire risk. However, conservation reserves generally pose very little risk for a number of reasons:
- Most of these reserves have been designed in consideration for a fire, such as having paths and road between conservation areas and residential property to provide a hard surface buffer. Walking paths inside a reserve, breaks up the vegetation across the landscape and helps reduce the intensity of a fire.
- When we are managing our reserves, we change the vegetation from introduced grasses to native grasses, which do not burn as hot or as fast as introduced grasses.
- Councils’ conservation officers conduct a series of planned burns and grass cutting around the edge of reserves to reduce the risk of fires as per the Municipal Fire Management Plan.
Planned burns every few years helps provide improved conditions for native seeds to grow, improved weed control, and significantly reduces the risk and impact of fires on public land and adjoining areas. Council officers and supporting contractors conducting controlled burns are experienced and trained in this work. Each burn is carefully planned, with considerations on the predicted weather, dryness of the vegetation and how steep the site is. On the day of the burn, VicFire is notified about the activity, and the weather and site conditions are assessed before the burn starts, then throughout the day. Council will burn small sections at a time and monitor fire grounds until declaring the area safe.
On the burn day, traffic will be managed where smoke may affect local roads. If you are driving near a planned burn, you should turn on your headlights and take extra care if there is poor road visibility.
If you have health queries relating to smoke exposure you should seek medical advice or call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24.
After the burn, you may wonder why sections of vegetation was left unburnt. This is done deliberately for the following reasons:
- Unburnt areas provide a safe place for animals, such as reptiles, to escape into during the burn.
- To allow plants to flower and drop seed to ensure their ongoing survival.
- Weed control in the burn area is very intensive, and Council needs to make sure that it has enough resources to do the job properly.
Each year Council aims to burn approximately one third of a reserve so that all vegetation is burnt over a three-year cycle. This practice is known as mosaic burning and it is commonly used for biodiversity conservation.
Landowners living near conservation or open space areas, also have a responsibility to ensure that their property is maintained before and throughout the fire season. For tips on what you can do to prepare for the fire danger period, visit the CFA website https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare For any enquiries contact Customer Service on 9205 2200.
Everyone has a role to play in preparing for the fire season. As a property owner, it is your responsibility to keep your property clean through the year, especially in the lead up to and during the fire danger period, which can be any time between October to May.
You don’t have to live in the country to be at risk of a fire. The fire danger period is when fire services restrict the use of fire in the community to help prevent fires from starting and keeps the community safe.
Prior to the declared fire danger period
If you live close to or among grass and paddocks, such as small acreage blocks or larger rural properties, you need to prepare yourself and your property by:
- Updating your details with Council if your information has changed to ensure you receive a fire prevention notice.
- Trimming grass and weeds so they are less than 10cm in height, including around fence lines.
- Removing any dead leaves and old tree branches.
- Removing any flammable materials, old tyres and rubbish.
- Having a bushfire plan and fire ready kit.
- Getting to know your neighbours so you can assist or ask for assistance if need be.
- Checking your insurance to ensure fences, outbuildings and their contents are covered by your insurance policy.
Tell us what you are planning to do
Fire is a major risk in our community and Hume City has a long history of fast-moving grass fires, especially during the declared fire danger period. It's important to tell Council what your planned fire prevention works are:
Tell us what you're planning to do
Options to help prepare your property
You can take your green waste to the tips in Campbellfield and Sunbury for free using your tip pass on your annual rates notice.
A free tree mulching service is available to all Hume residents to dispose of tree branches. You can find out more about this service on the waste services page.
Council provides a kerbside organics bin for green waste disposal. You can find out more about this service on the waste services page.
Open air burning is often used to reduce fuel loads and/or for ecological purposes. A permit to burn is required for open air burning on land less than 2 hectares outside the declared fire danger period. These permits are not valid on a total fire ban day.
If your land is over 2 hectares and you wish to burn off outside the declared fire danger period, you do not require a permit from Council.
To ensure that the fire services are aware of your planned burn, please contact Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) on 1300 674 428.
Each year, Council works with the Victorian Government and fire agencies to make sure our municipality is fire ready.
Actions included in the Municipal Fire Management Plan are put into place to help ensure Hume is a safer place to be during the fire danger period. Some of the activities Council undertakes are:
- Increased roadside slashing activity
- Grading bare-earth firebreaks
- Mowing parks and reserves
- Inspecting private properties
- Planned burns
- Maintaining Fire Access Roads
- When preparing your property, you may want to utilise Council's organic green waste bins or dispose of tree branches for free at one of Council's Mulching Days throughout the year.
Being fire aware and being prepared is a shared responsibility across government, emergency services and the community.
Working together we can help make sure Victoria is prepared for fire.
Every year we send out advisory letters to vacant land owners letting them know they need to prepare their property.
Council's Municipal Fire Prevention Officers inspect thousands of vacant properties across the municipality to identify possible fire risks. If the fuel load on the property is considered to be a fire hazard, Council will issue a Fire Prevention Notice specifying what works need to be carried out.
If the work required has not been carried out by the due date, a contractor will be engaged to carry out the works and the cost will be passed on to the property owner, at a minimum cost of $422.75.
You may also receive an infringement notice of up to 10 Penalty Units for failing to comply with a Fire Prevention Notice. The current ‘on-the-spot’ penalty is $1,849. Council also has the legal right to initiate court proceedings against the property owner. The maximum penalty is 120 Penalty Units ($22,200.00), and/or 12 months imprisonment.
What do I do if I have received a Fire Prevention Notice?
If you have received a Fire Prevention Notice (FPN) you need to respond to Council by filling out the online form below. You can advise us of the following:
- You have already completed the prescribed works.
- You plan to carry out the prescribed works.
- You would like to request an extension to carry out the works.
- You no longer own the property you received the FPN for.
- You would like to object to the FPN.
- Your neighbours are not maintaining their properties safely.
- You'd like to speak to the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer about your property.
Respond to your Fire Prevention Notice
The fire danger period has now ended. To manage the health of our conversation areas including grassland sites, Hume City Council will undertake planned ecological burns throughout autumn.
Burning of these areas is important to protect the health of grasses and soils, increase fuel reduction and support the growth of more flowering herbs to create habitat for insects, reptiles, birds and other species.
To be effective, planned burns can only be completed under certain weather conditions. For this reason, we are unable to specify the dates in which burns will be conducted however all nearby residents will be notified of planned burns in their area.
Throughout autumn, planned burns will occur at the following sites highlighted on the map below:
- Stylidium Nature Reserve
- Banksia Gardens
- Amberfield Wildflower Grassland Reserve
- Yellowbox Drive
- Rushwood Nature Reserve
- Malcolm Creek Linear Grassland Reserve
- Parkview/Princes Nature Reserve
- Bursaria Escarpment (Aitken Creek/Craigieburn Gardens)
- Patullos Lane North
- Grevillea Street Nature Reserve
- Kalkallo Commons Grassland
- Eucalyptus Court Nature Reserve
- Mt Ridley Nature Reserve
- Banda Bail Nature Reserve
- Konagadera Nature Reserve
- Evans Street Wildflower Reserve
- Albert Road Nature Reserve
- Gellies Road Bridge Reserve
- Raes Road Grassland Reserve
- Rosenthal Estate Conservation Reserve
- Darr Banneem
Each year, fire services declare the Fire Danger Period to restrict use of fire in the community. This is to help reduce and prevent the start and spread of fires. The CFA declares the Fire Danger Period at different times each year for each district or region. Hume City Council is in the Central Region. To find out when the Fire Danger Period has been declared go to the CFA website.
What can I do throughout the fire danger period?
Find out what you can and can't do during the declared Fire Danger Period, and on days of Total Fire Ban when fires in the open air are legally restricted. For information go to the CFA website.
Total Fire Ban Days and high risk days
Total Fire Ban days may be declared at any time of the year, whether in the Fire Danger Period or not. On a Total Fire Ban Day, you may not light a fire in the open air and there are restrictions on the use of machinery and tools that may ignite a fire. For more information go to the CFA website.
What you need to do on a high fire danger day:
- Monitor weather conditions – stay informed
- Listen to warnings
- Decide if you are going to leave early – this is always the best option:
- Know what the trigger is for you to leave
- Where you will go
- Who you will tell
- How you will leave e.g. car, taxi etc.
- Know what you will do with pets.
4. If you are staying, ensure you have your plan in place, including:
- Your personal capacity – are you able to defend if needed?
- Property preparation - is your property prepared?
- Equipment and resources – do you have the correct equipment in place and resources to assist in defending your property?
Do you live two or three streets away from grassland?
In the event of a fire, if you live two or three streets away from grassland you need to know what to do. Grass fires are unlikely to spread past the first row of houses.
- Stay inside your home – close all windows and doors, place towels or blankets around the bottom of the doors and windowsills.
- Turn off your air conditioner.
- Keep the roads clear so emergency services can respond.
- Stay informed and monitor weather conditions and warnings.
On average, there are 3,000 house fires in Victoria each year. House fires are devastating and often people find they have lost not only their home but the precious memories inside.
The CFA website has useful information about how house fires can be prevented by taking simple precautions.
- Never leave cooking unattended
- Keep tea-towels and pot-holders away from the stove
- Keep grills, fans and cooking surfaces free from grease and residue.
Power and appliances
- Make sure heaters are off before going to bed or going out
- Keep clothing, curtains or toys one metre away from heaters
- Never overload power boards
- Replace faulty appliances immediately.
- Change smoke alarm batteries every year
- Test smoke alarms monthly
- Ensure you have a smoke alarm outside every sleeping area.
- Clean chimneys and flues every year
- Always use a fire screen in front of an open fire
- Keep candles, incense, and oil burners away from anything flammable
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Never smoke in bed
- Don't leave electric blankets on for more than 30 minutes
- Never put weight (people, animals or objects) on your bed while the electric blanket is switched on.
Clothes and laundry
- Clean the lint filter on your clothes dryer after each load
- Let the dryer complete its cool down cycle before stopping.
Know what to do if a fire starts at home
Every family needs to develop a home fire escape plan and practice it. Your plan should include two ways to escape each room of the house, and a designated safe meeting point, such as the letterbox.
If you deadlock doors when you're at home, always leave keys in the lock to avoid becoming trapped.