WHILE the fire danger period is not expected to be announced in this region until the end of the year, it is never too early to start preparing your property, the region's acting fire chief says.
The landscape around Ballarat may look lush and green due to continued rainfall, but Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Chris Bigham, warned against complacency.
"At the moment, we're still experiencing a degree of significant rainfall and colder weather, which means our grasslands are still green," he said.
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Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Bigham added this could be providing a "false sense of security", so the imminent fire season was not front of mind for everyone.
But he said the increased moisture would make the grass grow, which would dry out in warmer weather and become fire fuel.
Traditionally, there are two fire threats in the region: the threat of bushfire and the threat of grassfires. But the upcoming fire season might look a little different.
With above average rainfall forecast from now until December, the fire season has the potential to be dominated by grassfires. Finer fuel than the thick logs found in forests, grass fires typically move extremely quickly and can burn up to 35km in an hour, though firefighters are usually able to bring grassfires under control in a day or so.
With the fire danger period not expected to be announced in this region until December, Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Bigham said this meant there was adequate opportunity for community members to clean-up their properties - starting this Fire Action Week, a period to increase understanding of local fire risks, start preparing properties and plan how to stay safe.
Preparing your property means reducing the risk of property damage in the event of a fire and includes pruning trees and overhanging branches near the home and ensuring grass is shorter than 10cm.
Gutters should also be cleared, outdoor furniture and other flammable items, such as doormats, put away and piles of firewood and mulch moved away from the house.
Increased rain also means increased growth and yield for farmers. Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Bigham encouraged farmers to maintain their equipment, as often when there is an increased yield, there is an increase in machinery fires.
"Our message to our local farmers is to make sure they do appropriate maintenance on all their equipment," he said.
"Make sure it's in good working order and inspect it regularly to make sure that there's no build-up of flammable material from harvesting. And always have sufficient suppression mediums around so that if a small fire does start, you can jump on it."
Now is also a good time to start discussing your household's fire plan and the trigger points to leave in the event of a fire, where you will go and how you will get there. It is also important to familiarise yourself with sources of emergency information, fire warning levels and what they mean.
The state government has announced that from this week, Melbourne residents would also be able to undertake fire preparedness at their regional properties, by obtaining formal written approval from their regional council.
In coming months, the Country Fire Authority will run Fire Safety Essential sessions online, to help Victorians understand fire risk and how they can prepare. More information is available on the CFA website.