Getting Fire Ready

Know your risk and create a plan

In Colac Otway Shire, bushfire is our largest risk. Knowing and understanding your risk to fire is the first step to being prepared. Learn more at CFA - Am I At Risk?

Developing a bushfire survival plan for your whole family that focuses on the preservation of life is crucial. The CFA have many helpful publications to help you prepare, including the Fire Ready Kit.

Fire Ready Kit(PDF, 4MB)

Managing private property to reduce fire risk

Reducing fuel loads ensures that if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold on private property or of spreading through whole regions.

Please view our Factsheet on Fire Prevention and Protection of your home(PDF, 9MB) or Country Fire Authority - Your Guide to Property Preparation(PDF, 2MB).(PDF, 2MB)

Further information and advice can be found at:

Country Fire Authority

VicEmergency

Managing vegetation around houses and on vacant urban land
  • Keep grass on residential blocks (including vacant land) below 30cm all year round and below 10cm leading up to and during the Fire Danger Period (November through to May, depending on weather conditions).
  • Maintain a non-flammable area between your house and your garden, such as a path or short, green lawn. This area should be at least one metre wide.
  • Ensure no flammable vegetation (>10cm) or material (for example, mulch) is located within three metres under or near windows and glass doors.
  • Remove woody weed species first, then assess what other vegetation may need to be pruned or removed. Council officers can help you to identify weed species, or go to our weed management page for further information.
  • Don’t store firewood or other fuel near or under your house.
  • Keep your house, including gutters and immediate surroundings free of leaf build-up.
  • Remove any tree branches overhanging your house.
  • Break up continuous lines of vegetation, such as hedges, so that fire is more manageable and not carried to your house or neighbour's house.
  • Break up continuous sections of vegetation with paths, grave/paved areas, or short mown grass.
  • When creating or remodelling your garden, choose fire resistant plants and create non-connecting clusters of plants.
  • Separate the tree canopy from the ground level by 'up-pruning' the branches to a minimum of two metres and remove shrubs or other fuel from directly under trees.
  • Keep the area immediately under the tree canopy clear of flammable materials including shrubs, twigs and leaf build-up.
  • If you live in a coastal area, you may wish to refer to Council's booklet Landscaping your Coastal Garden for Bushfire(PDF, 3MB), and other parts of the Shire to the CFA's Landscaping for Bushfire(PDF, 6MB).

Many native vegetation types - particularly heath or scrub - are highly flammable and produce intense fires with lots of embers, which can ignite spot fires. In some cases, mature native trees can offer some protection from radiant heat and embers. However, trees should not be planted close to buildings.

Some native vegetation is protected under law and penalties apply if it is cleared. Generally, you are permitted to clear: vegetation within 10m of your house; vegetation except for trees within 30m of your house; and weed species from anywhere on your property. If you are unsure about what you can and can’t clear, contact Council for advice.

Preparing for Bushfire 10-30 & 10-50 Rule and Fence Line Clearing(PDF, 103KB).

Managing vegetation on rural properties

Dry grass ignites easily and grass fires move very quickly, especially in windy conditions. Taller grass will have a higher flame height, and a fire in shorter mown or grazed grass will be less intense.

Works for managing vegetation on rural properties include:

  • Create a three-metre wide fire break on property boundaries or alongside wildlife corridors by keeping grass below 10 cm throughout the fire season. In some instances, a wider break is needed and may be directed by the Fire Prevention Officer after liaison with the property owner.
  • Where a rural property abuts a township/settlement, significant infrastructure or other identified important area, a larger fuel break will usually be required. Council’s Fire Prevention Officer can work with the land manager to determine requirements for establishing and maintaining a fire fuel break throughout the Fire Danger Period.
  • If you do not have access to town water, Council recommends you install CFA compliant fittings to your water tank(s). Easy access to water sources is critical to the fire bridge being able to defend your property. For information on CFA’s requirements for water supply fittings visit this BMO tank connections explained factsheet(PDF, 139KB).

Ongoing maintenance is the key to minimising fire threat

A little bit of work at regular intervals ensures property does not become unmanageable. As well as reducing the threat of fire, this can also prevent a whole range of potential issues, including snake and vermin infestation.

For those properties with a green waste kerbside collection this equates to about 6240 litres of green waste each year, and doesn't include the extra collections in October and November just before the summer fire danger period.

Grass slashing

Council’s inspection program

Council inspects properties throughout the Fire Danger Period. Council’s Fire Inspection Program commence in November. Properties found to be non-compliant will be issued with a fire prevention notice. These notices will be issued from early December.

Property owners who do not comply with a fire prevention notice, or who burn-off without a permit during the Fire Danger Period, face heavy penalties. These include state government penalties, which have recently become much stricter. The State government infringement for non-compliance with a Fire Prevention Notice is now $1,652.

Work in partnership with Council

Council works in partnership with the community in relation to this important issue, and Council’s fire prevention program also involves responding to notifications from community members about properties that are not being appropriately managed. 

The fire prevention staff at Council are eager to engage with community members and are happy to answer any questions you may have about managing your property to reduce the risk of fire and to mitigate the impact if fire does occur in our shire. Please call Council on (03) 5232 9400 to discuss your individual situation and any challenges you may be facing in the area of fire preparedness.