Fire Danger Preparedness FAQs

 As we enter the CFA declared Fire Danger Period, it's important to know what you can and can't do. We've gathered the answers to our frequently asked questions in one place to keep the community informed. 

If you have a question that's not listed below, please get in touch with our Emergency Management team on 5624 2411 or via email.

When is the Fire Danger Period?

The Fire Danger Period declaration is determined by the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the dates vary each year dependant on the grass curing rate of each municipal district. This normally occurs anywhere between October to December each year.  The conclusion of the Fire Danger Period is also subject to a declaration by the CFA based on the environmental conditions however, has a default end date of the 1st of May. 

How long can my grass be before it is considered a hazard?

During the declared Fire Danger Period any property assessed to be a potential fire risk by the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer can be directed to remove or modify vegetation to maintain a height of 100mm (10cm). It is recommended that you visit your property regularly to ensure that it is being maintained.

If a contractor is being used, it is best practice to ensure before and after photos are sent to you. 

Special considerations are often made to ensure safety to our community and business are not unnecessary  effected or comprised. 

Outside of the Fire Danger Period there are also provisions under the Community Local Law that vegetation is to be no more than 300mm (30cm) in height for amenity purposes.

I have received a Fire Prevention Notice, but want to close my paddock for hay. Why have I received a notice?

Other than the declaration of the Fire Danger Period by the CFA, the timing of Council's fire hazard inspection program is reliant on the grassland curing rate (this is the rate at which grass dries and becomes a harard) of the municipality. Once the curing rate has reached between 50-60%, longer grass starts to become an issue and will bring on the beginning of the inspection program and Council will inspect the residential areas of the townships.

To reduce the effects of the program on primary producers, only land that surrounds townships is proactively inspected. This is the last area to be inspected, to try and balance out the safety of the community, whilst allowing primary producers to cut their hay before it is too unsafe to do so. 

Unless there is a significant risk, primary producers are only requested to cut a fire break where their property abuts residential properties, which impacts their defendable space. 

If you have received a Fire Prevention Notice, it is because the length of your grass poses a risk to the surrounding properties. 

I submitted a request for some long grass to be inspected. Nothing has happened yet, when can I expect the grass to be cut?

When our customer service team receive a request or complaint regarding a fire hazard, the customer is advised that their complaint will be inspected. They are also advised that due to privacy of the property owner, they will not be advised of the outcome. 

If the property warrants an inspection by the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer and it is identified that in their opinion that there is a fire risk present, a Fire Prevention Notice will be issued to the property owner. The standard required date of compliance to a Fire Prevention Notice is 21 days from the date of issue. So if the property owner is required to complete any fire prevention works, they have three weeks to do so. Extensions of up to one week can be issued to a Fire Prevention Notice where reasonable circumstances apply.

Following the date compliance is required, if upon re-inspection the property owner has not undertaken the required works, Council will engage a contractor to complete the works. These works are carried out within five days of being organised.

So in some cases, five weeks can pass before you notice any works on a property if it is deemed a hazard by Council's Municipal Fire Prevention Officer.

There is long grass near my house and I am concerned about snakes. I'd like Council to contact the owner to have it cut.

During the declared Fire Danger Period, Council's Municipal Fire Prevention Officer will inspect all complaints of fire hazards on Council owned and privately owned property.

The Municipal Fire Prevention Officer can only action complaints in relation to the property presenting as a fire hazard. If it is deemed there is a fire hazard present, a Fire Prevention Notice can only be issued.

The Municipal Fire Prevention Officer can not give consideration to the presence of snakes, or issues of amenity when determining if the property is a fire hazard.

You should contact a registered snake handler if you have any concerns of the presence of snakes. 

I received a fire prevention notice at the beginning of the Fire Danger Period. The grass was cut on this property. Why have I now received another notice to comply?

When a property owner is issued with a Fire Prevention Notice, it will have direction to remove a hazard.

Most of the time this will be in the form of cutting grass but can include the removal of accumulated fine fuels such leaves, twigs or bark. All treatment types include directions that state it must be maintained to that standard for the remainder of the declared Fire Danger Period.

This means that Council will not issue a landowner with a second Fire Prevention Notice in the same season as the initial notice remains in force. If you have received a second notice, it may be Notice To Comply which is issued for amenity purposes. If you do receive a second notice, you should contact Council to speak to either the Compliance or Emergency Management teams. 

I've received a fire prevention notice and require some additional time to complete works as the contractor cannot attend until after the required compliance date. Can I organise an extension?

All applications for an extension of time will be considered when reasonable circumstances apply.

An application for an extension can be made in writing or verbally to the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer but must be made before the compliance date.

All extensions of time will be for no longer than one week past the compliance date.

Why have I received a Fire Prevention Notice, when the grass on Council roadsides is just as long or even longer?

Council slashes more than 1,700 kilometres of roads twice a year, with the first cut taking place between September and December and the second cut between January and April.

Council can slash to a distance of 1.5 metres past the guide post or 3 metres from the edge of the bitumen where there is no guide post. Council cannot remove native vegetation in the road reserve from this distance through to property boundaries due to potential biodiversity value and several other restrictions under the Wildlife Act 1980, Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1980 and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Acts 1999.

If you have received a Fire Prevention Notice, it is because your property has been deemed a fire hazard by the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer. 

There's some smoke coming from my neighbour's backyard. Are they permitted to light any fires now that we're in the Fire Danger Period?

During the declared Fire Danger Period, residents are able to light a barbeque, a camp fire or a fire for warmth with strict conditions, these are:

• The wind is not more than 10km/h (this can be observed if leaves and small twigs are in constant motion).

• The fire is lit in a properly-constructed fireplace (constructed of stone, metal, concrete or any other non‑flammable material that contains the perimeter of the fire. A commercially-produced barbecue is considered a properly-constructed fireplace) or in a trench at least 30 centimetres deep.

• The area within a distance of 3 metres from the outer perimeters of the fire and the uppermost point of the fire is clear of flammable material.

• The fire does not occupy an area in excess of 1 square metre and the size and dimensions of solid fuel used are the minimum necessary for the purpose.

• A person is in attendance at all times while the fire is alight and has the capacity and means to extinguish the fire.

• The fire is completely extinguished before the person leaves

All camp fires, fires for warmth or personal comfort are banned during Total Fire Ban Days. Solid and liquid fuel barbecues and ovens are also banned during Total Fire Ban Days. Please visit the CFA website for more information.

Someone in the neighbourhood is burning and the smoke has a chemical smell. I cannot tell you where the smoke is coming from. What can you do to assist?

During the declared Fire Danger Period, all burning off complaints should be referred to the CFA in the first instance. They will attempt to attend, and if necessary, will refer to Victoria Police. 

Outside of the Fire Danger Period it is Councils responsibility to investigate the burning off of toxic or nuisance materials and will do so as practicable. 

Any relevant information is useful for Council's authorised officers' investigations.

I'd like to obtain a permit to burn off during the Fire Danger Period. Can I obtain one and what is the process?

Yes, you can obtain a permit to burn off during the declared Fire Danger Period from the CFA, however, a permit will only be issued for certain reasons and as a last resort. The permit will not allow you to burn off during a day of Total Fire Ban.

For more information on permits for burning off during the Fire Danger Period and how to apply, visit the CFA website.