Heat prompts police bushfire warnings statewide

TOMORROW'S scorcher forecast of above 40 degrees across the south-west has prompted police warnings as the risk of fire increases with soaring temperatures.

Victoria Police today issued a statement asking residents to be vigilant and review what they can and cannot do on high fire risk days.

While many believe the risk is limited to farmers or those in rural areas, Crime Command Superintendent Tess Walsh said grass and bushfire prevention was everyone's responsibility.

"Whether you're on holidays, farming, camping or simply working outdoors, it is essential that you know the fire danger rating and that you do not become complacent when it comes to grass and bushfires," she said.

Police also want to remind those working outdoors that under new Country Fire Authority Act regulations there are now prescribed high fire risk activities requiring specific safety precautions if they are to be performed during high fire danger times.

"Victoria Police welcomes the additions to the Act, with activities such as welding, gas cutting, soldering, grinding and charring now classed as high fire risk activities," Superintendent Walsh said.

"This means that any person found engaging in these activities not in accordance with the Act can be prosecuted by police and face penalties up to 15 years in jail and $34,000 in fines."

She said while outdoor work in a high fire risk time was sometimes unavoidable, there was no excuse for being unsafe in these periods.

"While we know that some people, particularly those in rural areas, must work no matter the temperature or fire rating, it is integral that appropriate safety measures are in place to minimise the possibility of a fire getting out of control.

"Like arson, recklessly causing a fire is a serious crime. More than three quarters of all bushfires in Victoria are deliberately lit or are caused by recklessness.

"The destruction and devastation these fires cause lasts far longer than the fires themselves, so always think about what you are doing and comply with the relevant requirements."

More information on fire rating and restrictions during the bushfire season is available at

www.cfa.vic.gov.au

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