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Ensuring Bass Coast is fire ready for summer

Ensuring Bass Coast is fire ready for summer

Tuesday 11 January 2022

As the fire season approaches, Bass Coast agencies have been working hard to ensure the region is prepared while locals and visitors are being invited learn more about fire safety.

The Fire Danger Period for Bass Coast has been declared from 10 January to 1 May 2022.

Bass Coast’s Fire Risk Working Group makes sure our region is fire ready through the Municipal Fire Management Plan, which identifies different levels of bushfire risk for different localities and identifies how to reduce the risk.

Members include the CFA, Victoria Police, Parks Victoria, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Phillip Island Nature Parks, Bass Coast Shire Council and VicRoads. The agencies work together with AusNet Services, Westernport Water and South Gippsland Water to plan for potential bushfire emergencies in Bass Coast.

Phillip Island Nature Parks Ranger in Charge Ben Thomas said the Nature Parks was busy preparing for the fire season with rangers undergoing firefighter training, a new dedicated fire unit introduced, and extra resourcing brought in for slashing and widening fire breaks.

“Our primary prevention activities include vegetation management and slashing of strategic fuel breaks near residential areas, along with education, ranger patrols and enforcing park regulations,” Mr Thomas said.

Tim Bessell-Browne, Parks Victoria, Ranger in Charge - Fire and Emergency (South Gippsland District) said Parks Victoria was also well prepared.

“Parks Victoria is well prepared for the upcoming fire season with our seasonal Project Fire Fighter staff recruited, trained and ready to respond with the wider Parks team in the event of fire. Parks Victoria works as part of Forest Fire Management Victoria and other partners, including the Country Fire Authority, to respond to fires across private and public land,” he said.

“The recent spring season has seen an amazing grass growing period. If we have a dry spell in the area, this grass will dry out and pose a higher risk of fast moving grass fires. Our team are working hard to keep this grass down by slashing fuel breaks and access trails.”

Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Michael Whelan, says it’s important to be vigilant about fuel loads.

“It’s fair to say that we’ve been distracted by the pandemic for the last two years but we shouldn’t forget the horrors of the Black Summer bushfires in late 2019 and early 2020.

“These were devastating for so many Gippsland communities as well as our tourism businesses.

“We all have a part to play to keep our fuel loads down and minimise the risk of anything like this happening again.

“Fast-moving grass fires are the biggest risk in Bass Coast and can catch people off-guard. We are used to the green countryside and may not notice that the fire danger has increased significantly after a few hot and windy days.

“As of 1 January, under the Local Laws, we’ll be issuing a $300 infringement to property owners within the townships with reported grass over 30cm long.

“Council Fire Prevention Officers have also been inspecting blocks and issuing a Notice to Comply to property owners with long grass and they then have 21 days to cut it or Council organises a contractor to do it, with the property owner bearing the cost.

“We’re keen to have a safe summer season that’s enjoyable for everyone and don’t forget to download the VicEmergency app.”

Locals and visitors will have the opportunity to ask any questions about fire safety with the CFA’s Community Education Trailer visiting the region over coming days:

  • Wonthaggi Wetlands (end of Poplar St) 10/1/22 from 2–4pm
  • SIlverleaves Café 11/1/22 from 2–4pm
  • Grantville Transaction Centre 12/1/22 from 2–4pm

“The CFA Community Education Trailer offers residents and visitors to Bass Coast an opportunity to ask any question about fire safety, whether it be summer fire safety and what to do on those high fire danger days, through to home fire safety matters such as smoke alarms and how to make your home safer from fire,” said Bass Coast Group Officer Damien O’Connor, talking on behalf of brigades in Bass Coast.

“If you are a local or a visitor to Bass Coast, you must have a Plan of what you and your family will do on those high risk fire danger days. It’s important to have a plan for those Fire Danger Rating days of Severe, Extreme and Code Red to not be around areas of high risk and look at alternative activities for the day.”

Victoria Police will be conducting targeted patrols during the Fire Danger Period. Anyone detected lighting fires or using illegal fireworks during the Fire Danger Period will be prosecuted.

Anyone who sees anything suspicious is encouraged to contact Police on 000 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.