As the height of summer approaches, local Country Fire Authority brigades are reminding people issued with fire prevention notices that time is running out to comply with them.
Fire prevention notices are issued to landowners whose property is considered a fire risk due to excessive fuel loads such as uncut or overgrown grass or weeds. A council or municipal fire officer has the power to inspect and to issue fire prevention notices.
Under the Country Fire Authority Act 1958, councils have a legal obligation to reduce the risk of fire for the community. Section 41D(1) of that Act states that a person must comply with a fire prevention notice.
Failure to comply with a notice means that council may authorise a contractor to undertake works to clean up the property, with all associated costs and administration fees passed onto the landholder.
There may also be legal repercussions. A fine will be issued by council equal to 10 penalty units, and council’s fire prevention officer or the CFA also has the right to initiate legal proceedings against you as the property owner or occupier, which may result in a fine of up to 120 penalty units and/or 12 months imprisonment.
Landowners or their contractors undertaking last-minute clean up work are urged to be vigilant in guarding against the chance of accidental ignition by mishap.
Creswick CFA captain Rob Squires says many people in the Ballarat region were loathe to cut twice, and may have left it too late to cut safely and effectively now.
“The rain brought on very rapid grass growth, and rather than get the mower out twice, people may have thought they could leave it until the last moment,” said Mr Squires.
“Even people who did cut earlier are finding they have to cut again.
“My advice is to clean up but be careful, and always have an appliance on hand. These grasses have dried out quickly, and even a (domestic motor) mower can start a fire.”
People concerned about excessive fuel loads near their home should contact their local CFA or council.
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