As a rural community, we all share the responsibility to plan and prepare for the possibility of bushfires. When fires do occur, they present a major threat to life and property within Wellington Shire.
It’s important to prepare and practice you own home emergency plans, have a home fire safety kit and to know where you will get reliable information during a fire. Plan what choices you will make if a fire starts near your home. Know when to leave, where you will go and how to safely get there. Your plans should include your pets, horses and other livestock.
Property owners must clear and maintain their land to the general standards outlined below, or any standard prescribed in a Fire Prevention Notice, for the duration of the declared Fire Danger Period for Wellington Shire. You may need to carry out fire prevention maintenance on your block more than once during the fire season. If you don’t live locally or can’t do the works yourself, ask your family, friends or a neighbour to give you a hand.
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, especially around all buildings and along fences.
- Remove undergrowth, fallen branches, garden refuse and tree cuttings from your property.
- Tree branches and shrubs that overhang buildings should be pruned back. Low branches (those within 2 metres of the ground) should be pruned back to separate the tree canopy from ground fuels.
Rural Living and Farming Zones
- Create 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 a 10 metre firebreak along boundaries where paddocks meet residential areas or neighbouring houses.
- In heavily wooded areas, ensure ground fuels are cleared along boundary fence lines that border 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, contact our Municipal Fire Prevention Officer (MFPO) to discuss your options.
Engaging a Contractor
Several private local contractors offer property preparation and maintenance services for the fire season. Council does not provide recommendations or supply contractor details. For landowners who do not live locally, we recommend asking your contractor to take before and after photographs to be sure 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 likely dispose of the vegetation as a part of their service. Please note that the fine for the dumping green waste is $330. To report someone illegally dumping green waste contact Council on 1300 366 244.
No Fee Green Waste Disposal
Wellington Shire Council provide residents with a free waste disposal weekend, for further information please see our Hard Waste and Green Waste page.
A Planning Permit is normally required to remove native vegetation. 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 DELWP Bushfire Protection and my Property web page.
Under no circumstances will a Fire Prevention Notice give you direction or permission to remove whole trees or disturb soils.
Native grasses generate only 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 which can only be achieved by allowing them time to re-seed. Not doing so encourages introduced grasses, creating 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 Wellington Shire. These inspections identify properties that require certain works to be carried out to reduce the potential fire risk to life or property.
Our fire prevention program aims to minimise ignition threats and reduce hazardous fuel loads to stop the spread of bushfires. This is mostly achieved by enforcing standardised grass slashing and mowing across private landholdings, though in some cases, more substantial work is required.
Our annual inspections always begin immediately after Melbourne Cup Day, regardless of the declared Fire Danger Period. This is to help everyone schedule their property maintenance at the same time every year and to ensure our annual inspections of over 17,000 properties are completed before the height of summer.
You must ensure your property is prepared before the annual inspections and maintained for the entire Fire Danger Period. Since grass may re-grow after inspections, you must continue to monitor conditions and will likely need to cut it more than once.
We continue to monitor properties throughout the Fire Danger Period and if necessary will serve additional Fire Prevention Notices.
See our Fire Prevention Inspections Timeline for more information.
If our inspection finds that your property is not sufficiently prepared for the fire season, each individual owner will be served a Fire Prevention Notice. The Fire Prevention Notice will outline the specific hazard reduction works you must 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 Infringement Notice which carries a penalty of $1,652. We may also arrange for the hazard clearance works to be completed by our authorised contractors, at your cost.
If you disagree with our 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 (602KB).
Refer to Section 41 of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958.
Objection to a Fire Prevention Notice
You can lodge an objection to a Fire Prevention Notice in writing to our Municipal Fire Prevention Officer (MFPO) within 7 days of service of notice. The MFPO can confirm, vary or withdraw the notice. If the MFPO does not address your objection within 14 days, or you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can write an appeal to Chief Officer of the Country Fire Authority 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 determined each year by the CFA. The FDP allows for rules that restrict the use of fire in the community, to help prevent dangerous fires from starting.
CFA declares the Fire Danger Period for each municipality (shire or council area) at different times in the lead up to the fire season, based 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 visit the CFA’s Restrictions during the Fire Danger Period page.
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 ($1,652 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 that do not conform with the directions of a Fire Prevention Notice may also be subject to forced fire hazard clearing. Council will send an authorised contractor onto your land to complete the works as outlined on your Fire Prevention Notice. We will bill you as the landowner for the full cost of the necessary works, plus an administration fee. If you complete the required works late, after an authorised contractor was tasked to your property, you may still be charged a callout fee, plus administration costs. If you do not pay the account, we can take you to court to recover the cost (including interest at a fixed rate).
Refer to section 42 of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 and section 225 of the Local Government Act 1989.
Our fire prevention inspection program is focused on reducing potentially hazardous vegetation levels on private property in line with the Country Fire Authority Act 1958. We do not serve Fire Prevention Notices for single trees, snakes, vermin or where a property may be unsightly. We are unlikely to serve a Notice if the property is in the middle of a major town.
If you believe there is a possible fire hazard on a neighbouring property, you can report it to Council on 1300 366 244. All reported hazards are inspected by a Fire Prevention Officer and if deemed a genuine risk, we will serve a Fire Prevention Notice. If the property is not a fire risk, no further action will be taken. We will not provide you with updates or advise you the outcome. Any action taken is a matter between Council and the landowner.
It is important to note that Council cannot action fire hazard reports for land managed by another government or statutory body. These reports must be directed to the agency responsible for the land management.
See our Fire Prevention Guide: Reporting a Possible Fire Hazard (259KB) for more information.
Before you light a fire in the open air, it is your responsibility to check the Fire Danger Period for Wellington.
During the Fire Danger Period
If you want to conduct a burn off during the Fire Danger Period you will need to apply for a burn permit. You must demonstrate there is no other alternative to burning and that the burn can be conducted safely. Wellington Shire Council will not issue permits to burn during the Fire Danger Period. To obtain a permit for any kind of burning, you must apply direct to the Country Fire Authority (CFA) by visiting CFA Permits or by contacting CFA District 10 in Sale on (03) 5149 1000.
If you are granted a permit to burn, 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 permit, carries penalties up to and including 120 penalty units ($19,344), 12 months’ imprisonment or both.
To find out what you can and can’t do during the Fire Danger Period or on days of Total Fire Ban, visit the CFA’s Can I or Can’t I page.
Outside the Fire Danger Period
If you live in a Rural Living Zone or Farming Zone: You do not require a 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 Zones: You will require a permit to burn on your property at any time of year. You must be able to demonstrate there is no 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 permit to burn, 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 email@example.com.
- 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 – Burning Off 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) 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 residents 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 Places of Last Resort (formerly 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 a bushfire.
Bushfire Places of Last Resort (BPLR) are open space areas where you can go when your personal fire plans have failed and you are left with no other options. 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 BPLR. There are no special facilities and no provision of food, water or built shelter. The BPLR may be uncomfortable and exposed to extreme heat, smoke and embers. It is only intended to provide a place of last resort during the passage of a fire.
There are two Bushfire 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 Bushfire Place of Last Resort Plan. For more information about BPLR’s, visit the website CFA Safer Places.
The Wellington Municipal Fire Management Planning Committee (MFMPC) recognises and evaluates the potential threats that fires pose to the community. They work to reduce these threats by developing and implementing the Municipal Fire Management Plan.
The Committee is made up of representatives from Council, Country Fire Authority (both staff & volunteers), Forest Fire Management Victoria (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning), Parks Victoria, VicRoads, Victoria Police, Victoria State Emergency Service, Department of Defence and Hancock Victoria Plantations.
The plan aims to ensure that individuals and government agencies within Wellington Shire recognise potential fire risks and understand their roles and responsibilities for these risks.
Municipal Fire Management Plan (4MB)