FIRE restrictions will start in the Corangamite Shire next week.
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) has a set fire period in district six, covering Corangamite and the Colac-Otway shires, which runs from November 1 to May 1 each season.
The fixed dates created controversy last year with many farmers complaining they had not been able to clean up and burn fallen branches and other fire hazards because their paddocks were still boggy following a wet spring.
The decision to continue the fixed dates again this season was made following talks between the CFA, volunteer group officers, the Department of Sustainability and Environment and staff from both shires.
Corangamite Shire’s environment and emergency manager Lyall Bond said residents wanting to burn during the period could obtain permits by applying to the council.
Mr Bond said, while he understood there was still a lot of green grass and water lying about, people should plan ahead to remove fire fuels and develop a fire plan for the season.
“Community members can prepare by cutting long grass, removing undergrowth and fallen branches which are perfect fire fuel.
“During the fire danger period, no burning off is allowed within any town and severe penalties apply for non-compliance.
Meanwhile, Southern Grampians Shire’s fire prevention officers will be conducting inspections of properties for fire hazards next month.
The shire has urged residents to ensure their property is free from fine fuels such as leaves, twigs and long grass to reduce the risk of fire.
Municipal fire prevention officers have the power to inspect properties and to issue fire prevention notices. The council also has the legal right to do anything to remove a fire hazard on private land and recoup the costs.
There are significant changes to the CFA Act this year, with the fine for failing to comply with a fire prevention notice jumping from $244 to $1408.
Court-issued penalties for the same offence can now range from a minimum of $7050 to a maximum of $16,900.