Fire Prevention and Awareness
The Mansfield Shire Council Municipal Fire Management Plan (MFMP) is a newer approach to fire management planning across Mansfield Shire. The plan puts in place an integrated fire management strategy for the Shire, as recommended by the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission.
It also links into the Hume Regional Strategic Fire Management Plan to enable planning across municipalities throughout the Hume region and Victoria.The MFMP has been developed and recently reviewed (October 2016) by the Mansfield Shire Municipal Fire Management Planning Committee (MFMPC).
The MFMPC comprises representatives from Mansfield Shire Council, the Country Fire Authority, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria Police and Hancock’s Victorian Plantations. The MFMPC is a sub-committee of the Mansfield Shire Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee (MEMPC).
The Municipal Fire Management Plan (MFMP) is to address the overall risk of bushfire with the risks relating to structural fires and hazardous materials incidents being addressed in future editions of the plan.
Although not ‘owned’ by Council, the MFMP is maintained and stored at the council, in a similar way to the Municipal Emergency Management Plan. It will be reviewed annually with a full re-write every 3 years. You can view/download a copy of the plan from the link under Download Files (to the right of your screen).
Please note that the MFMP is a sub-plan of the Municipal Emergency Management Plan (MEMP) and details relating to the "all hazard approach" to emergencies will be found in this parent document and not necessarily be repeated in the specific Fire Plan.
Preparing for the Fire Season Advice
The Preparing for Fire Season Advice 2016-17 brochure is available. The fire season is expected to start early this year and this brochure will assist you to get ready and to know what to do and where to go for information.
Council’s Fire Prevention Officer carries out property inspections during the commencement of the fire danger period - usually at the start of November and issue fire hazard direction notices for the clearing of non-complying properties. Fire hazards will continue to be monitored and appropriate action needs to be undertaken by all property owners to maintain their assets throughout the declared fire danger period.
Where works are not completed within the time frame nominated on a Fire Direction notice, Council will arrange for the works to be done and invoice the owner. An on-the spot infringement of $1600+ will also be issued.
A list of Contractors can be found here. They can assist you with ongoing maintenance of your property before and during the fire season.
Community Information Guides (previously known as Township Protection Plans) provide more fire safety advice and are created when the fire risk is seen as significant. With community consultation, CFA has developed CIG’s for Tolmie, Sawmill Settlement, Jamieson, Goughs Bay and Kevington. An all hazard Community Safety Plan also exists for Woods Point—these can be obtained from Council or from the CFA website
- Propery address/number
- Nearest crossroad/street
- Details about the fire
- The community cannot rely solely on the Emergency Services to protect them from fires
- Identify potential risks to life and property both inside and outside your home with a view to minimising the impact of loss
- Develop an action plan that recognises methods and treatments of identified risk, with each member of the family involved in the plan development and implementation
- Managing the environment that you live in may be as simple as relocating or rearranging an identified risk to minimise the potential fire threat, i.e. wood heap away from the house, correct LPG gas cylinder storage
Measures that can be implemented
- Remove branch heaps, derelict building materials, rake and remove excess surface fine fuels (i.e.: leaves, twigs, bark) retaining a fine layer not in excess of 20mm depth
- Keep grass cut to a height not exceeding 75mm length
- Access tracks to dwellings kept clear of vegetation (airspace of 4m x 4m)
- Cutback branches/foliage overhanging within 2 metres of your roofline. Clean out twigs and leaves from your roof gutter
- LP Gas cylinder storage on east side with pressure relief vents pointing away from buildings
- Isolate chemical storage and toxic materials away from your home
- Do not burn off rubbish unless safe/prepared - there is to be NO burning off once the Fire Danger period commences
Install smoke detectors near kitchen and bedrooms. Replace the battery each year when daylight savings starts.
Power failure often occurs during a severe fire. To be prepared you should have:
- A battery operated radio (car radio can be used)
- Candles and/or torches
Wild Fire Threat
- Dams - make sure you have clear vehicular access at all times
- Static Water Supply Tank - keep full throughout the summer period for fire fighting purposes - have a CFA coupling fitted
- Check Fire Fighting Equipment - have fully functional petrol or diesel powered pump fully fuelled (electricity may fail) and garden hoses that reach all parts of the buildings
- Seal your buildings against spark and ember intrusion
Important Survival Tips
- CALL ‘000’ to report any fire at the earliest opportunity
- Know how to accurately describe your property (i.e. rural number, distance to intersection)
- Plan your exit - ensure that the phone number of the fire brigade is near your phone (or call ‘000’)
- Ensure windows open freely
- Designate a meeting place outside, known by all family members
- Deadlocks (internal security locks) - leave key in lock or on holder close to door
Stop, Drop, Roll
If clothes catch fire, this procedure helps protect your face and respiratory tract from flames and rising heat. Throw a woollen blanket over person to smother flames.
Know First Aid
If burns are evident use clean cold water to cool the burn. DO NOT USE - butter, ice, cotton wool or ointments - seek professional help.
Exit through toxic smoke by moving close to the floor as the air is coolest and cleanest there.
A community education program made up of small groups of neighbours sharing information and knowledge can minimise potential loss of life and property by developing fire safety strategies.
For further information contact CFA District Head Office, telephone (03) 5721 4122.
- Keep matches and lighters away from the reach of children
- Only teach older children to use matches/lighters in the presence of an adult
- Children need constant supervision near open fireplaces and bar radiators, and should be made aware of the radiant heat transmitted
Coping with Bushfire Smoke
Here are 5 key points regarding the associated health impacts for use during periods of bushfire smoke:
- Where possible, stay indoors with windows and doors closed until the smoke has passed.
- If you operate an air conditioner during smoky conditions, switch it to recycle or recirculate to reduce smoke coming inside your home.
- If you or someone you care for has a pre-existing lung or heart condition, avoid physical activity during smoky conditions, as more fine particles are breathed into the lungs during exercise.
- If you have a heart or lung condition (other than asthma), follow advice from your doctor. If you have asthma, follow your personal asthma plan.
- If you, or someone you care for experiences symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure, seek medical advice or call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 6024
For more information go to the Better Health Channel at www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
More information is contained in the attached factsheet "Bushfire smoke and your health" also available at the link below.
The CFA have released a Home Bushfire Assessment online tool which will help you:
- Calculate your defendable space.
- Assess the amount of defendable space required to protect you from radiant heat during a bushfire. house
- Reduce the risk of ember attack on your property
- Identify and manage the vegetation in the inner and outer zones surrounding your home
- Identify flammable objects around your house that pose a fire risk.
- Assist with the development of your Bushfire Survival Plan (Prepare, Act, Survive).
A complete assessment will take about 20 - 30 minutes and you can access the online tool from the following link:
Council is keen to reinforce the warning against creating your own fire bunker or buying non-accredited private bushfire shelters, or using ‘storage shelters’ for personal use in the event of a bushfire. The Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission found people died in bushfire bunkers and this lead to Victoria adopting newly created national regulations for personal fire shelters. "A fire bunker constructed properly can be an integral part of your fire safety plan. Following Black Saturday, a lot of research has gone into what a fire bunker should be. Using a bunker that is not properly designed, installed or maintained can kill you and your family.
A non approved bushfire shelter is likely to be inherently unsafe and a potential deaths trap for the individuals that may go in there. We know from the experience of the Royal Commission that some people did perish in what they thought were bushfire bunkers that they'd built themselves. Whether it was the secondary use of a wine cellar or a building like a shipping container, they died, and not necessarily as a direct result of fire. They suffocated, the oxygen was extracted out of the bunker because it wasn't airtight or the heat essentially killed them.
A number of companies had been advertised bushfire shelters but the quality and safety of some shelters had not been accredited by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC). Some companies were even calling constructions ‘storage shelters’, to avoid the processing of a Permit however the structures often do not meet the Standards to be accredited and are not necessarily installed or maintained correctly".
The CFA advises that “homes are not constructed to withstand a fire under Code Red conditions where you can expect extremely hot, dry and windy conditions. If a fire starts and takes hold, it will be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving. Spot fires will start, move quickly and come from many directions. A bad bushfire has the potential to destroy most things in its path.”
All private bushfire shelters require a building permit before construction or installation. Without the BRAC ‘stamp of approval’ a fire bunkers should be scrutinised and unless otherwise proven, treated as non-accredited, as they have not been deemed fit for purpose. The necessary Building permit will specify performance requirements for design, construction, and installation and maintenance aspects - such as access to the shelter. Like Neighbourhood Safer Places, private bushfire shelters should only be used as a place of last resort with the preference to leave early on the higher fire risk days.
Those with private shelters are encouraged to review their fire plans and, if it involves the last resort shelter option of a private fire bunker, this should be challenged to ensure it is going to be as safe as possible. This challenge testing may include the review by a qualified Building Practitioner to see if your structure meets the required performance standards that were legislated during 2010. If you are considering the installation of a Fire Refuge, please follow the safe path and only install an accredited bushfire shelter after obtaining the Building Permit.
Information about private bushfire shelters is available on the Victorian Building Authority website at www.vba.vic.gov.au
More information is also available on the CFA web site. Council can also provide copies of CFA documents to assist individuals to create YOUR fire plans. You can also contact Council’s Municipal Building Surveyor on 5775 8555 (Wednesday and Thursday only) or contact the Victorian Building Authority on 1300 815 127.
Things to be aware of in the cooler months
This is the time to prepare your site for fire risk. In the cooler Autumn/Winter period you need to be aware of the following:
- A local laws permit is required (throughout the year) to burn off in Township, Residential (including Low Density Residential), Business or Industrial zoned land unless the fire is lit for purpose of cooking food or for heating - when contained in a fire drum.
- Council waived the requirement for burn off permits prior to the fire season to encourage land owners another opportunity to dispose of vegetation.
- Rural and other areas not listed above can light a fire to dispose of tree pruning etc.
- The CFA encourages those lighting such a fire to register their burn-off with VicFire - 1800 668 511. This will assist the CFA greatly in case a member of the public calls it in as an "out of control" fire. Should such a call be received, the operator will ask further queries before responding a Brigade.
- A person lighting a fire is responsible for any damage caused. Adjoining property owners are to be notified of any planned or proposed fire before ignition.
- Material to be burnt should not be burnt in a manner that will cause a 'nuisance'.
For further information, please contact Council's Emergency Management Officer, Mr Kevin Murphy, on 5775 8555.
Further information on fire prevention and community safety can be obtained by contacting Council’s Fire Prevention Officer.
Mansfield Shire Council
33 Highett Street, Mansfield
Telephone: (03) 5775 8555
Facsimile: (03) 5775 2677
This information is provided for information purposes only. Although all care has been taken in the preparation and updating of the information no claim is made as to the accuracy or authenticity of the content. Mansfield Shire Council, its employees, agents, consultants and representative do not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided or incorporated into it by reference. The information is provided on the basis that all persons undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of the information and determining if the information is current.