Bushfires are recognised as a major risk threatening life and property within the Wellington Shire. As a community, we all have a responsibility to be prepared for fire to enhance the safety and general wellbeing of our community.
The VicEmergency website has a wealth of resources to help you understand your fire risk and know what to do before and during a fire.
The VicEmergency App includes warning and incident notifications for fire, flood, storm, earthquake, tsunami, weather warnings, shark sightings, beach closures and more.
Wellington Shire is in the West and South Gippsland Fire District.
Property owners must maintain their property to the best practice standards outlined below, or any standard prescribed in a Fire Prevention Notice, for the duration of the declared Fire Danger Period for Wellington Shire. This may mean you will need to carry out fire prevention maintenance on your block, more than once during the fire season.
Residential Areas (Blocks adjacent to nearby homes)
- Ensure ground fuels such as grass, bracken or weeds are maintained to a height of 100mm or less across the whole of your land, including around all buildings and along fences.
- Remove undergrowth, fallen branches, garden refuse and tree cuttings from your property.
- Prune back tree branches and shrubs that overhang your neighbours property, particularly if close to their house. Low branches should be pruned back to separate the canopy from ground fuels.
Rural Living and Farming Zones
- Create, where possible, a 10 metre fuel reduced area around dwellings and other buildings by cutting and maintaining all grass to a height of 100mm or less.
- Slash, where possible, a 10 metre firebreak along boundaries where paddocks meet residential areas or neighbouring houses.
- In heavily wooded areas, ensure ground fuels are cleared away along boundary fence lines that neighbour with residential areas.
There may be situations where you cannot achieve the above recommendations due to environmental factors (native grass preservation or very large trees) or farming operations (grazing, cropping, hay). In these circumstances, please contact our Municipal Fire Prevention Officer to discuss your options.
Engaging a Contractor
Several private local contractors offer services to assist you prepare and maintain your property for the fire season. Please check local business directories, speak to a neighbour, or contact your local garden supplies centre. Council does not provide recommendations or hand out contractor details. For landowners who do not live locally, we recommend that you book your contractor early and have the contractor take before and after photographs to ensure that work is completed to your satisfaction.
Disposal of Green Waste
You have several options for the disposal of Green Waste which may include mulching and composting, permitted burning or transport to a nearby waste facility. If you engage a contractor, they will dispose of the vegetation as a part of their service. Please note that fines will be issued for the dumping of green waste. If you would like to report green waste dumping contact Council on 1300 366 244.
Free Green Waste Disposal Weekend
To help you prepare your property, we hold our annual Free Green Waste Weekend on the weekend prior to the Melbourne Cup.
Please be aware that a Planning Permit is generally required to remove native vegetation in Victoria. In some circumstances, you may be able to remove native vegetation for bushfire protection without needing a planning permit due to the 10/30 and 10/50 rules. Check if these rules apply to your property by contacting our Environmental Planner on 1300 366 244 or visit the Bushfire Protection and my Property DELWP bushfire planning page.
Under no circumstances will a Fire Prevention Notice give you direction or permission to remove whole trees or disturb soils.
Cutting Native Grasses
Native grasses generate about 10 per cent of the fuel load of introduced pasture grasses such as Phalaris and Wild Oats. Therefore, we encourage the retention and regeneration of native grasses. This can only be achieved if we allow them time to re-seed. Not doing so encourages introduced grasses which create a much greater fire risk.
Our annual fire prevention inspections start in November every year.
Each year as a part of our requirements under the Country Fire Authority Act 1958, we conduct fire prevention inspections across the Wellington Shire. These inspections identify properties that require certain works to be carried out to reduce the threat of fire to life or property.
During our annual inspections, we focus on reducing the fuel loads across the landscape to minimise the threat of ignition and spread of bushfires. A simple way of achieving this on a large scale is through the enforcement of grass slashing and mowing across private landholdings. In some cases, more substantial work is required.
Even though the start of the Fire Danger Period varies due to weather and grass curing, our annual inspections will always begin in the week of the Melbourne Cup every year. This is to help everyone schedule property maintenance at the same time every year and to ensure our annual inspections to over 17,000 properties are completed before the height of summer.
Ensure your property is maintained for the annual inspections and for the entire Fire Danger Period. In wetter years, your grass may re-grow after inspections and you may need to cut it several times throughout summer. Please note - If we receive a fire hazard complaint about your property after inspections have been completed, and we determine there is a fire hazard, we will issue a Fire Prevention Notice or if you have already received one, a Fire Infringement.
See our Fire Prevention Inspections Timeline for more information.
If a property is not prepared for the fire season, each individual owner of that property will be issued a Fire Prevention Notice. The Fire Prevention Notice will outline the works you are required to do and a due date for those works to be completed. If you do not follow the directions of the Notice, each individual owner of the property will be issued a Fire Prevention Infringement (penalty $1,586) and we may also arrange for the works to be completed by our contractors, at your cost.
If you disagree with your assessment; are having difficulty completing the work by the deadline; or have stock/hay relating to the property, contact the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer before the due date on your Notice.
See our Fire Prevention Guide: Fire Prevention Notices for more information and frequently asked questions, or download an Example Fire Prevention Notice (220KB).
Refer to Section 41 of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958.
Objection to a Fire Prevention Notice
You can object to a direction given on Fire Prevention Notice by lodging your objection in writing to our Municipal Fire Prevention Officer (MFPO) within 7 days of service of notice. If the MFPO fails to confirm, vary or withdraw the notice within 14 days, or you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can write an appeal to Chief Officer within 7 days of the receiving that outcome.
Refer to sections 41B and 41C of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958.
The Fire Danger Period is when CFA restricts the use of fire in the community. This is to help prevent fires from starting.
CFA declares the Fire Danger Period for each municipality (shire or council) at different times in the lead up to the fire season. It depends on the amount of rain, grassland curing rate and other local conditions.
The Fire Danger Period is NOT the same thing as a Total Fire Ban.
To view the restriction dates for Wellington Shire please visit the Restrictions during the Fire Danger Period page on the CFA website.
Our Fire Prevention Officers carry out follow up inspection on properties that have received a Fire Prevention Notice. If you have completed the works required, not further action will be taken. If you have not completed the works required by the due date on the Notice, each individual owner of the property will receive a Fire Infringement ($1,586 penalty) because the fine is against the individual, not the property. That means, for example, if the property is owned by three individuals, each person will receive a separate fire infringement.
If you receive an Infringement Notice, you must pay or take action by the due date on your notice. The front of your notice will outline your options. If you ignore a fine it will become more serious and costly. More information can be found on our Infringements and Fines page.
Refer to section 41E of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958.
Properties of owners who receive a Fire Infringement, may also be subject to forced fire hazard clearing. That means we will send a contractor onto your land to complete the works that are outlined on your Fire Prevention Notice. We will bill you as the landowner for the cost of the completed works, plus an administration fee. If you complete the required works after a contractor has been tasked to your property, you may be charged a callout fee, plus administration. If you do not pay the account, we can take you to court to recover the cost (including interest at a fixed rate on the money owed).
Refer to section 42 of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 and section 225 of the Local Government Act 1989.
Please let us know if there is a property of concern to you. One of our Fire Prevention Officers will inspect the property and if they deem the property a fire hazard, the owner will be issued a Fire Prevention Notice. If the property is deemed not a fire hazard, no further action will be taken.
Our fire prevention inspection program is focused on reducing fuel loads immediately around homes and dwellings. We do not issue Fire Prevention Notices for single trees, snake concerns or amenity, and unlikely to issue any fire notices for hazards more than 30 metres away from a house or in the middle of major towns.
See our Fire Prevention Guide: Fire Hazard Complaints (224KB) for more information.
Before you light a fire in the open air, it is your responsibility to check if it’s the Fire Danger Period for Wellington.
During the Fire Danger Period
If you want to conduct a burn during the Fire Danger Period you will need to apply for a fire permit, also known as a burn permit. You must demonstrate there is no other alternative to burning and the burn can be conducted safely.
Wellington Shire Council will not issue fire permits during the Fire Danger Period. To apply for a fire permit, for any kind of burning, you must apply with the Country Fire Authority (CFA) by visiting CFA Permits or by contacting the CFA District 10 Office in Sale on (03) 5149 1000.
If you are granted a permit, strict conditions will apply in addition to the Standing Requirements for Every Burn (see below).
Remember - lighting fires in the open air during a Fire Danger Period, or failing to comply with conditions and restrictions of an issued fire permit, carries penalties ranging up to and including 120 penalty units ($19,030), 12 months’ imprisonment or both, as determined by the courts.
To find out what you can and can’t do during the Fire Danger Period, and on days of Total Fire Ban, see the CFA brochure Can I or Can’t I.
Outside the Fire Danger Period
If you live in a Rural Living Zone or Farming Zone: You do not require a fire permit to burn on your property outside of the Fire Danger Period. However, you are still required to comply with the Standing Requirements for Every Burn (see below).
If you live in any other zone, including Residential Zone: You will require a fire permit to burn on your property at any time of year. You must be able to demonstrate there is no other alternative to burning, that smoke is unlikely to cause a nuisance to your neighbours and that the burn can be conducted safely.
To apply for a fire permit, fill out a Local Laws Permit Application Form and submit to Council.
If you are unsure of which zone your property is in, contact our Customer Service Centre on 1300 366 244.
Standing Requirements for Every Burn
- Ensure that local fire services are aware of your burn by phone 1800 668 511 or email the Burn Off Notification Form to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Let your neighbours know at least 2 hours before starting a burn
- Check weather conditions – do not burn if wind exceeds 10 km per hour (light breeze) or temperature exceeds 32° C
- Make a fire break by clearing at least 3 metres of flammable material from around the burn area
- While the burn is alight, ensure you have enough people and water on site to control and extinguish the burn safely and effectively
- If you fail to meet these requirements you may incur a penalty.
See our Fire Prevention Guide – Fire Permits for more information.
If you want to build a new building or alter an existing one in a bushfire prone area, there are additional construction standards required under the Building Regulations 2006. See our Building in a Bushfire Prone Area page.
Additionally, if a Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) or Wildfire Management Overlay (WMO) applies to your property, you will require planning approval prior to applying for building approval. See our Bushfire Management Overlay page.
If structures on your property are affected by bushfire and you’d like to know what you can do, visit the Post Fire Building Information page.
Further information and resources can be found on the State Government’s Bushfire Protection and my Property page.
Community Information Guides (CIGs), formerly known as Township Protection Plans (TPPs), provide a planned response for you and the emergency services when a bushfire is within proximity to your township and people may be impacted. The guides address the specific needs of the town's people and visitors, their safety and pre-planning. They let you know how to effectively prepare your property, how to protect assets, the environment, and the economy. They are generally broken up into three parts: a) Community Information, b) Township Planning Factors and c) Fire Protection.
CIGs have been prepared by the CFA for the following towns in Wellington Shire:
Bushfire Neighbourhood Safer Places - Places of Last Resort (NSP-PLR) are identified spaces within the community that may afford some protection from radiant heat, the biggest killer during bushfire. They are a place of last resort in bushfire emergencies only.
These NSP-PLRs are open space areas where you can go when your personal fire plans have failed and are left with no other option. They are not a replacement for having your own well prepared fire survival plan and being aware of the weather and fire danger in your area.
There is no guarantee of safety at a NSP-PLR. There are no special facilities and no provision of food, water or built shelter. The NSP-PLR may be uncomfortable and exposed to smoke and embers and is only intended to provide a place of last resort during the passage of a fire.
There are two Neighbourhood Safer Places - Places of Last Resort within our Shire:
- Loch Sport (Lions Park - Lake Street, Opposite Second Street North)
- Port Albert (Boat Ramp Car Park and Surrounds – Corner of Wharf Street (Yarram-Port Albert Road) and Bay Street)
We have also prepared a Municipal Neighbourhood Safer Places Plan. For more information about NSP-PLR’s, visit the website CFA Safer Places
The Wellington Municipal Fire Management Planning Committee (MFMPC) has an obligation to contribute towards community fire safety. The Committee recognises the potential threat that fire poses to the community and aims to reduce this threat by developing and implementing the Municipal Fire Management Plan.
The Committee oversees the plan and is made up of representatives from Council, Country Fire Authority (staff & volunteers), Forest Fire Management Victoria (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning & Parks Victoria), VicRoads, Victoria Police and Hancock Victoria Plantations.
The plan is aimed at ensuring that individuals and government agencies within Wellington Shire are aware of potential fire risks and understand their roles and responsibilities for mitigating these risks. You may access the plan by clicking on the link below.
Municipal Fire Management Plan (4MB)