Fires a reminder

Local fire brigades were called out several times last weekend to out-of-control burn offs. Photo: Chris FlemingA series of fires across the district last weekend serves as a reminder to landowners that they are responsible for making sure their burn offs are safe. It also serves as a reminder that our local firefighters are volunteers and should be thanked for the work they do.

Woodend CFA 1st Lieutenant, Mike Dornau, said brigades get a mixed response to their turnouts. More often than not residents are embarrassed and grateful, but sometimes they show complete disregard for the help they receive.

“Those who do all the preparations and make the effort, then something happens that’s out of their control, they’re the ones who are embarrassed,” Lt Dornau explained.

“It’s more the people who are ignorant and don’t make any preparation for the fire. A number of calls on the weekend were typical, they did none of that, they just light up a fire and see what happens. We tell people to clear an area around the fire, have water and equipment on hand, don’t leave the fire unattended … they’re the ones who are indifferent.

“A lot of the time they don’t even say anything, you can just tell by their manner that they don’t really care that much.”

Lt Dornau said some people who have attended a Fire Ready Meeting for the first time have been staggered to learn that the Woodend brigade or any brigade would be made up of volunteers.

“They just expect people should be there,” he said.

Lt Dornau said he was surprised that people seemed to feel the need to burn off immediately after restrictions are lifted.

“A lot of it is just common sense – I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are burn-off savvy and they said ‘look, it’s been too dry, I’m not going to burn off yet, I’ll wait a couple of weeks’.”

Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s manager of community safety, Anne-Louise Lindner, said that even though the Fire Danger Period had ended and burning off restrictions on land less than 4000-square-metres have been lifted during April, people must be mindful of burning off conditions as outlined in Council’s Local Law No.10.

“Burning off is everyone’s responsibility. People must make sure that the fire is supervised at all times and that there is sufficient water available to extinguish it if required; and ensure that the fire is not a nuisance to neighbours or causing a hazard, such as reducing visibility for motorists on nearby roads,” Ms Lindner said.

“Residents who fail to do so may face fines up to $2000.”

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