EDITORIAL: Now is not the time to be complacent about being bushfire ready

We may still be wearing our winter woollies and are huddled around our heaters, but summer is just around the corner. And weather experts believe we’re in for a long, hot summer.

With that prediction comes the warning to be fire vigilant, but, most important, to be fire ready.

We are coming out of a winter which produced very little rain and combine that with high temperatures in coming months, it has created dangerous bushfire conditions in the Ballarat district.

Now is the optimum time for not only farmers and hobby farmers, but all residents to become fire ready.

In fact all Ballarat landholders are been urged by one of Victoria’s top emergency management experts to start preparing now for bushfires.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley, who will speak in Ballarat this Friday at the groundbreaking Living With Bushfire Community Conference, said those living on the outskirts of city will be most at risk this fire season.

Ballarat is one of the lucky regions in the state where residents can live in a bush surrounding, yet be so close to urbanisation. But it also means some people may be complacent about bushfire preparedness.

In sounding his warning, Mr Lapsley said Ballarat was a place where people live near the bush, but might not be used to the associated fire risks.

Mr Lapsley said it was important to understand those living in urban interface areas were also at risk.

Conferences like the upcoming Living With Bushfire Community Conference in Ballarat are extremely important for those at the coalface – the brave professional and volunteer firefighters – to also be prepared for the fire season.

Now – before the real scorching weather hits the region – is the time for people in Ballarat to prepare their properties by cutting grass, clearing out spouting around the house and, most importantly, coming up with a fire plan for the whole family.

Property owners should also talk to their neighbours and share their knowledge and understanding of not only the local area, but also fire plans.

Being prepared and sticking to the plan will go a long way to saving properties and lives in the upcoming fire season. Because during a bushfire, when you really don’t have a lot of time to react, it may be too late.