When fires do occur, they present a major risk and threat to life and property within the Corangamite Shire. Information on understanding fire risk in your environment can be found at the CFA website - Am I at risk?
It's important to prepare and practice you own home emergency plans, have a go-bag ready, and know where you will get reliable information during the event of a fire. Plan what choices you will make if a fire breaks out near your home. Know your triggers when to leave, where you will go and how to safely get there. Your plans should include your pets, horses and other livestock. Being prepared is a critical step in being ready. The CFA have many helpful publications to help you prepare, including the Fire Ready Kit. See links to the CFA website below.
The VicEmergency website has a wealth of resources to help you understand your fire risk and know what to do before and during a fire. The VicEmergency App includes warning and incident notifications for fire, flood, storm, earthquake, tsunami, weather warnings, shark sightings, beach closures and more. The app can be downloaded for free on both apple and android phones.
Property owners must reduce their fuel load and maintain their land to the general standards outlined below, or any standard prescribed in a Fire Prevention Notice, for the duration of the declared Fire Danger Period for Corangamite Shire Council. You may need to carry out fire prevention maintenance on your property more than once during the fire season. If you don't live locally or can't do the works yourself, ask your family, friends or a neighbour to give you a hand.
- Keep grass on residential blocks (including vacant land) below 30cm all year round and below 10cm leading up to and during the Fire Danger Period (November through to May, depending on weather conditions).
- Maintain a non-flammable area between your house and your garden, such as a path or short, green lawn. This area should be at least one metre wide.
- Ensure no flammable vegetation or material (for example, mulch) is located under or near windows and glass doors.
- Remove woody weed species first, the assess what other vegetation may need to be pruned or removed.
- Don't store firewood or other fuel near or under your house.
- Keep your house, including gutters and immediate surroundings, free of leaf build-up.
- Remove any tree branches overhanging your house.
- Break up continuous lines of vegetation, such as hedges, so that fire is more manageable and not carried to your house or neighbour's house.
- When creating or remodelling your garden, choose fire resistant plants and create non-connecting clusters of plants.
Dry grass ignites easily and grass fires move very quickly, especially in windy conditions. Taller grass will have a higher flame height, and a fire in shorter mown or grazed grass will be less intense.
Works for managing vegetation on rural properties include:
- Create a three-metre wide fire break on property boundaries or alongside wildlife corridors by keeping grass below 10 cm throughout the fire season. In some instances, a wider break is needed and may be directed by the Fire Prevention Officer after liaison with the property owner.
- Where a rural property abuts a township/settlement, significant infrastructure or other identified important area, a larger fuel break will usually be required. Council’s Fire Prevention Officer can work with the land manager to determine requirements for establishing and maintaining a fire fuel break throughout the Fire Danger Period.
- If you do not have access to town water, Council recommends you install CFA compliant fittings to your water tank(s). Easy access to water sources is critical to the fire brigade being able to defend your property. For information on CFA’s requirements for water supply fittings visit the CFA Tank Connections Explained page.
There may be situations where you cannot achieve the above recommendations due to environmental factors (native grass preservation or very large trees) or farming operations (grazing, cropping, hay). In these circumstances, contact our Municipal Fire Prevention Officer (MFPO) to discuss your options.
Council's fire planning is set at both the landscape level and the township level. At a landscape level Council undertake Fire Prevention on roadsides, this is focused on vegetation reduction around townships and the establishment of strategically positioned fire breaks. Council works in partnership with the CFA and local brigades to reduce vegetation strategically which aids the suppression of fires once started. Specific roadsides are identified as areas of fire breaks which CFA crews use to hold the fire. These roads will receive treatments such as burning. Other roadsides are identified for resident access and egress if leaving the area or caught off guard with fire nearby. These roads receive less intensive treatments such as slashing. Not all roadsides are part of the fire prevention program.
At a township level Council maintain Council owned vacant land and road reserves. Council also work in partnership to support and prepare areas for the CFA to undertake strategic control burns on the perimeter of townships to reduce fuel close to houses and buildings. These aid the CFA during suppression efforts to reduce the likelihood of the bush/grass fires entering the townships.
Our annual fire prevention inspections start in November every year.
Each year, Council’s Municipal Fire Prevention Officers conduct fire prevention inspections throughout Corangamite Shire Municipality. Under the Country Fire Authority Act 1958, Council has a legal obligation to reduce the risk of fire for the community. These inspections identify properties that require certain works to be carried out to reduce the potential fire risk to life or property.
Council's fire inspection program is designed to reduce radiant heat, fire intensity and ember attack and minimise direct flame impact on your home, and if relevant your neighbour’s home. Reducing the fine fuels assists to reduce the intensity of a fire if it occurred, as fine fuels are responsible for the major increase in fire intensity and spread. This is mostly achieved by enforcing standardised grass slashing and mowing across private landholdings, though in some cases, more substantial work is required. These works are consistent with CFA guidelines for protecting your home, however there are no guarantees of personal or property safety when it comes to fire.
Since grass may re-grow after inspections, property owners must continue to monitor and maintain their properties throughout the fire danger period. We continue to monitor properties throughout the Fire Danger Period and if necessary, will serve additional Fire Prevention Notices, where necessary.
Slashing and mowing contractors
The local area has many contractors that offer property preparation, garden beautification and maintenance services. Council does not provide recommendations or supply contractor details. For a list of slashing and mowing contractors in the Shire, please visit Yellow Pages.
Property owners that have not sufficiently prepared their properties for the upcoming fire season, will be deemed as non-compliant and issued with a fire prevention notice. Property owners named on the fire prevention notice are responsible for ensuring that works detailed on the notice are carried by the compliance date. A Fire Prevention Notice only provides the authority to complete the works specified on the Notice. Under no circumstances will a Fire Prevention Notice give you direction or permission to remove whole trees or disturb soils.
Property owners that do not comply or complete works by the compliance date as directed by the Fire Prevention Notice will be issued an infringement for the amount of $1870.40. The Shire will also arrange for contractors to complete the works on your property and allocate all costs to you as the property owner.
If you disagree, have trouble completing the works by the due date or have stock/hay relating to the property please contact the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer well before the compliance date on the Notice.
Please refer to the Country Fire Authority Act (Section 41) for more information.
Objection to a Fire Prevention Notice
Property owners can lodge a written objection to a Fire Prevention Notice to our Municipal Fire Prevention Officer (MFPO) within 7 days of service of notice. The MFPO can confirm, vary or withdraw the notice. If the MFPO does not address your objection within 14 days, or you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can write an appeal to Chief Officer of the Country Fire Authority within 7 days of the receiving that outcome.
Please refer to the Country Fire Authority Act (Section 41B and 41C) for more information.
Property owners that receive an infringement notice must pay or take action by the due date on the fire prevention notice. The front of your infringement will outline your options on how to pay the fine. If you fail to pay your infringement, costs will be added, and the matter will be referred to court.
Properties that do not comply with a fire prevention notice by the compliance date may be subject to forced fire hazard clearing. Council will organise an authorised contractor onto your property to complete the works as outlined on the Fire Prevention Notice. Council will also allocate the full cost of the necessary works plus an administration fee to you as the property owner. If you complete the required works late, after an authorised contractor was tasked to your property, you may still be charged a callout fee, plus administration costs. If you do not pay the account, we can take you to court to recover the cost.
Please refer to the Country Fire Authority Act (Section 41) and Local Government Act 2020 (Section 117) for more information.
Contact Council if you are concerned about a property. All reported hazards are inspected by a Fire Prevention Officer and if deemed a genuine fire risk, a Fire Prevention Notice will be issued. If the property is not a fire risk, no further action will be taken. We will not provide you with updates or advise you the outcome. Any action taken is a matter between Council and the landowner. If the land belongs to the Crown or the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) please contact 136 186 as Council cannot issue Fire Prevention Notices to State Government agencies.
Council does not issue fire prevention notices due to the presence of snakes, vermin or rats.