January 10, 2023

It’s Bushfire Season: Plan, Act, Survive

Victoria is one of the most fire prone areas in the world, and bushfires and grassfires are a part of life.

Bushfires and grassfires can start quickly, often without warning, and they can threaten lives and properties within minutes.

All Victorians need to know how to plan for and respond to fire.

There are some simple steps you can take to get ready now:

  • Familiarise yourself with the new Australian Fire Danger Ratings and check them every day during the fire season
  • Make your fire plan and talk with your family about what you will do. Just as every family or household is unique, every plan will be different
  • If you live in a regional area at risk of bushfires or grassfires, be prepared to leave early on very high-risk days or if a fire starts

What does Leave Early mean?

If you live in a regional area at risk of bushfire and grass fires, we recommend to always leave the night before or morning of an Extreme or Catastrophic (Fire Danger Rating) day.

These days are rare. They are rated high risk because of:

  • The heat
  • How dry is the area
  • How much dry vegetation there is (for example if there is dry forest, long grass, thick bush)
  • The wind.

The worse these conditions are, the more difficult it is for emergency services to control fire. If the fire is unpredictable and uncontrollable, you do not want to be anywhere near it. Leave early.

Fires can start at any rating. Watch the conditions and check warnings so you know what to do if a fire starts.

You can:

  • Download the VicEmergency App from the App Store or Google Play
  • Add your location preferences (for example your home or other family member’s homes)
  • Set up notifications to be alerted of Fire Danger Ratings and emergency warnings.

Total Fire Ban Days

Total Fire Ban Days are different to Fire Danger Ratings:

  • A Fire Danger Rating tells you how dangerous a fire is likely to be if one starts. It gives you information to help you decide how you should put your fire plan into action.
  • A Total Fire Ban tells you if it is legal to do certain activities that may start fires.

Total Fire Bans are declared by CFA on days when fires are likely to spread rapidly and be difficult to control. This sets legal restrictions on what activities can or cannot occur in a district for that day.

The purpose of a Total Fire Ban is to reduce the activities that may start a fire such as campfires and some outdoor BBQs.

Not all fires are equal. How you should respond depends on where your property is and the environment around it.

  • Bushfires behave differently to grassfires. It is important to understand both. When a grassfire starts in an urban or built-up area, you need to react differently than if you are in a rural and regional area.
  • Grassfires can start and spread quickly, especially on days when the fire danger rating is High, Extreme or Catastrophic.
  • Grassfires can travel up to 25 km per hour and pulse even faster over short distances. Grass is a fine fuel and burns faster than bush or forests. Grassfires tend to be less intense and produce fewer embers than bushfires, but still generate enormous amounts of radiant heat.

If you see behaviour that could lead to a bushfire, it’s up to you to report it and keep our community safe. Call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or go to crimestoppersvic.com.au.

In an emergency, or if you see smoke or flames, call 000 immediately.

For more information on bushfire safety tips, visit: https://www.frv.vic.gov.au/bushfire-safety