It is important to know the fire risk in your area. You don’t have to live in the country to be at risk of a fire. Hume City has a long history of fast-moving grass fires.
Have a look at the different types of fire-risk environments to understand which one you live in. By recognising and understanding your risk, you can plan for a fire and know what to do if one happens.
What do I need to do to prepare my property for fire season?
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:
- Removing flammable items from decks and verandas, such as boxes, furniture and doormats.
- Keep grass cut to less than 10cm. Fire can ignite and travel quickly through long grass.
- Keep woodpiles away from the house. Stray fire embers can easily ignite woodpiles.
- Store flammable liquids away from your house and in flameproof containers.
- Get rid of dry grass, leaves, twigs and loose bark.
- Prune lower branches of shrubs to separate from surface fuels underneath.
- Prune shrubs well away from branches of mature trees
- Cut back overhanging tree branches close to the property – no branches within 10 metres.
- Do not have large shrubs next to or under windows.
- Use pebbles and rocks in your garden (not flammable mulch).
- Keep gutters and roof areas clear of leaf litter.
- Check your insurance - ensure fences, outbuildings and their contents are covered by your insurance policy.
- Have a plan and kit ready.
- Get to know your neighbours so you can assist or ask for assistance if need be.
Each year before summer, Council’s Fire Prevention Officers inspect properties throughout the municipality. If the fuel load on the property is considered to be a fire hazard, the property owner will receive a Fire Prevention Notice.
Under the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 and the Fire Rescue Victoria Act 1958, Council has an obligation to ensure the risk associated with fire is reduced for the community.
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
What if I don't comply with a Fire Prevention Notice?
Follow up inspections are carried out on all properties that have been issued a Fire Prevention Notice. If the work required has not been carried out by the due date, a contractor will be engaged to carry out the works. The cost of the contractor, plus additional administration fees, will be passed on to the property owner. Once a Fire Prevention Notice has been issued, Council will not contact you before engaging contractors to undertake the works.
You may receive an infringement of up to 10 Penalty Units for failing to comply with a Fire Prevention Notice. The current 'on-the-spot' penalty is $1,652. Council also has the legal right to initiate court proceedings against the property owner. The maximum penalty is 120 Penalty Units ($19,824), and/or 12 months imprisonment.
Each year the CFA declares 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.
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.
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 practise 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.