Colac Otway Shire Council - Preparing for the Fire Season
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   Page Last Updated:
 Thursday, 10 December 2015
 Home>Emergency Management and Fire Prevention>Fire Prevention>Preparing for the Fire Season  
Preparing for the Fire Season  Printer Friendly

Colac Otway Shire acknowledges that successful fire prevention is achieved through co-operation and partnership with our local community.

We live in an area where the risk of fire over the summer and autumn months is a real threat. All property owners have an obligation to themselves, their neighbours and the community to ensure that their property is not a fire hazard by ensuring properties are clear of long grass, tree and garden waste throughout the Fire Danger Period. We all have a responsibility to minimise the risk of fire.

It is important to note that reducing the fire hazard on your property is only one part of being prepared for a fire event. Developing a Bushfire Survival Plan for your family that focuses on the preservation of life as the priority is critical. More information on how to develop a Bushfire Survival Plan for your family can be found on the CFA Website.

The Declared Fire Danger Period (FDP)
The declaration of the FDP is made by the CFA under the authority of the Country Fire Authority Act and it has a general prohibition on burning off and controls industrial and personal use of fire.  Media releases and advertisements will be placed in the local newspaper prior to the commencement of the Fire Danger Period.

Dates for commencing and ending the Fire Danger  Period can differ between municipalities, so enquiries should always be made with the local Council of the CFA if you intend to burn during spring or summer months.  For up-to-date information on the FDP and the restrictions that apply during that period, please contact Council on 03 5232 9400 or visit

No burning off is permitted during the Fire Danger Period unless a Schedule 13 Permit has been obtained.  While the Colac Otway Shire is authorised to issue these permits, they will generally not be approved from late December to the end of February.  Permit holders must comply with the conditions of the permit as non-compliance with the Country Fire Authority Act attracts heavy penalties.
Preparing Your Property for the Fire Season
Preparing your property for the fire season is vital for giving the best chance of survival of life and property during wildfire.  Fire prevention is a shared responsibility between the community and government agencies, including Colac Otway Shire, DSE and CFA.

Council have a number of programs to assist with ensuring the municipality is prepared for the fire season.  This includes slashing Council roadsides and carrying out an annual inspection program to identify properties that may have vegetation that does or may pose a hazard in the event of a fire occurring.

Many residents are unsure of what they should do to properly prepare their property, but is is not difficult and there is a range of information available on what to do.  This information can be provided by your local brigade, CFA office or by visiting  Residents who are unable to carry out the work to prepare their property can employ a contractor to do the work on their behalf, a list of local contractors is available below.
How to Prepare Your Property
This information should be used by property owners and occupiers to assist in preparing their properties.  Property owners must maintain their property throughout the fire season.  It is important to note that you may need to carry out works more than once during the season to meet the requirements.

Please note there may be situations where a fuel reduction zone is better situated elsewhere on the property.  Some properties may have established environmental values, covenants, windbreaks, regeneration areas, native grasses or stock grazing.  These will require alternative strategies for fire prevention.

Many properties have put a lot of thought into fire management and you may have risk mitigation measures that vary from the recommendations below.  If you believe you have special circumstances, please contact Council's Fire Prevention Officer on 03 5232 9400 to discuss the most appropriate course of action that may best suit your individual needs.

Residential, Vacant Land and/or Properties (Up to 2 Hectares/5 Acres) - Create a fuel reduction zone of 20m around any buildings and structures by cutting and removing all grass and undergrowth to a height not exceeding 100mm.  Remove all green garden waste, general rubbish and fine fuels such as leaves, twigs, etc to reduce the spread of fire.  Please note if you wish to remove any trees, a Planning Permit may be required and must be obtained from Council's Planning Department prior to trees being removed.

Farming Properties - For bona-fide farming enterprises the recommendation is for the provision of a 20m fuel reduction zone around all dwellings, sheds and other outbuildings where normal cropping and grazing activities are occurring on the property.  Other prevention works may be required by Council as part of our annual inspection program.  To discuss any further requirements or your fire prevention plans, please contact Council's Fire Prevention Officer on 03 5232 9400.

Rural Residential Properties and Hobby Farms (Over 2 Hectares/5 Acres) - For non bona-fide farms you should prepare a 10m short grass fuel reduction zone on all external property boundaries to a height not exceeding 100mm and maintain up to a 20m fuel reduction zone around dwellings, sheds and other outbuildings unless directed by Council to create a larger fuel reduction zone.  Please note if you wish to remove any trees, a Planning Permit may be required and must be obtained from Council's Planning Department prior to trees being removed.
Guidelines to Fire Prevention Work
Below is an example of works that may be required to be carried out under your Fire Prevention Notice.  Your Notice will list the works (which may include those listed below) required to be carried out and a due date to complete them by.  Please note this is not a complete list and you may be directed to carry out other works as determined by Council's Fire Prevention Officer.

You are required to keep your property maintained at all times during the fire season.  On the occasion that you are not able to carry out the works yourself, please appoint a contractor to carry out the works on your behalf.
Works   Description    
Cut a 5 metre perimetre break   Cut a 5 metre perimetre break around your property boundary, alternatively you can create a 5 metre fuel reduction zone around your property boundary by ploughing    
Cut a 10 metre perimetre break   Cut a 10 metre perimetre break around your property boundary, alternatively you can creat a 10 metre fuel reduction zone around your property boundary by ploughing    
Cut grass to a maximum of 100mm   Mow or slash all grass to a length not exceeding 100mm    
Isolate heavy fuel   Remove or isolate all stored dry grass, dry tree branches and dry or dead vegetation from around dwellings and outbuildings    
Remove excess fine fuel   Remove all excess grass, leaves, bark and twigs less than 6mm in diametre from the proprerty    
Remove excess rubbish   Remove all accumulated rubbish, trash and waste that may cause a fire hazard    
Remove excess vegetation   Remove all excess undergrowth, overhanging and dead vegetation from the property    
Remove fine fuel on house   Remove excess leaves, bark and twigs from roof tops, verandahs and patios    

Grass Removal and Slashing Contractors
A list of local contractors for grass removal and slashing is provided for your convenience.  Council does not recommend any specific contractor and does not accept liability for the standard of their work or any damage that may occur to your property.  Please note there are many other contractors and garden services in the area that are not on the list.

Download Files
 Schedule 13 Permit to Burn
 Grass Removal & Slashing Contractor List 2015-2016
 2015/16 Fire Prevention Courtesy Letter

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PO Box 283, Colac, Victoria   3250   Tel: (03) 5232 9400   Fax: (03) 5232 9586 
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