By Derek Schlennstedt
Fire restrictions in the Yarra Ranges are set to finish at 1am on 20 March.
The decision has come as a result of milder conditions and regular rainfall over summer which has kept vegetation green and reduced the likelihood of fires starting and spreading.
CFA operations Manager Dave Renkin has said that the rainfall in early 2017 had resulted in a significant amount of vegetation growth – this, he said, translated into more private burn-offs in the coming weeks as landowners will now be able to reduce the amount of vegetation growth that had taken place over summer.
He urged that people who would be burning off check conditions and register their burn-offs to ensure local fire brigades weren’t called out to false alarm calls.
“Every year our brigades get more and more frustrated at the number of false alarm calls they have to respond to as a result of people not doing the right thing,” he said.
“Be aware that any calls to triple-zero about smoke in the air at particular locations are cross-checked with the burn-off register. When nothing is listed firefighters are required to attend.
“Calls to unregistered burn-offs take volunteer firefighters away from workplaces, families and potentially genuine emergencies.”
Landowners intending to burn off are being urged to register with the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) by calling 1800 668 511 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr Renkin says that registering is easy and people should be prepared to answer some simple questions about the location, size and date of the intended burn.
“The burn-off line is very easy to use – the operators are friendly, and prompt you by asking the key questions,” he said.
Tim Holland, currently acting CFA operations manager said that even though restrictions were ending, there was still the potential for fires to spread and that landowners should take care when burning off.
“If you are burning off, make sure that the area where you are burning off is cleared of any bush or debris that could catch alight … and most importantly monitor and check wind directions,” he said.
CFA suggests that landowners who are burning off be prepared with sufficient water equipment and that they remain in attendance at the fire for the entire time – prior to burning off it’s important that landowners also check weather conditions, especially wind.