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Don’t strike a match

Bacchus Marsh Fire Brigade are ready for the upcoming fire season and authorities have a zero-tolerance against unlawfully lit fires. Photo - Jessica Howard

By Meg Kennedy

When the clock struck midnight on Monday, 12 November, the Moorabool Shire officially entered the 2018/19 Fire Danger Period (FDP).
Although this means certain fire restrictions will come into practice, the period includes the implementation of the Moorabool-centric Zero Tolerance strategy, which means it is a criminal offence to start a fire, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
During the Fire Danger Period, fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer. FDPs are based on local conditions and take into account fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall.
The Zero Tolerance strategy is a joint-initiative by Victoria Police, CFA and Moorabool Shire Council, first implemented during the 2005/06 bushfire season. Bacchus Marsh Fire Brigade First Deputy Officer Nathan Ractliffe said that there will be “no warnings” for offenders who light fires during the period and can lead to prosecution.
Mr. Ractliffe says Moorabool “hasn’t had a significant fire act” within the decade of its beginning, and that there are three messages the residents of Moorabool should be aware of.
“Report all suspicious activities by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, call Triple-Zero in the case of a fire emergency, and act and prepare for the fire season, no matter whether you’re in a rural or suburban area,” he said.
Moorabool Shire Mayor Paul Tatchell said the municipality “has 11 communities identified by the Victorian Fire Risk Register as being at high risk of bushfire, so we all need to do all we can to minimise the risk.”
For more information on what you can or can’t do in the upcoming bushfire season, visit https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can/.
To register a burn-off in the upcoming season, contact the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) on 1800 668 511.