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Total Fire Ban declared

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30 Dec 2010
New Year's eve (31 December) has been declared a day of Total Fire Ban across Melbourne.

- Joint Media Release from CFA, MFB, Department of Sustainability & Environment and the Fire Services Commissioner -

Victoria will face its first significant fire threat of the 2010/11 season tomorrow, Friday 31st December, with Total Fire Bans (TFB) declared for the Mallee, Wimmera, South West, Northern Country, North Central and Central Fire Weather Districts.

Fire Sevices Commissioner and State Controller, Craig Lapsley, said conditions posed a significant fire risk.

“Temperatures are forecast to rise into the high 30s and even past 40 degrees in these areas tomorrow with strong winds increasing the fire threat. Friday is our first significant threat of the 2010/11 fire season,” he said.

Mr Lapsley said Mallee and Wimmera have an ‘extreme’ Fire Danger Rating (FDR) for tomorrow while South West, Northern Country, North Central and Central Regions have a ‘severe’ rating and all other districts are ‘very high’.

He said emergency services were warning local residents and visitors to high-risk areas to be aware of the conditions and have a Bushfire Survival Plan to ensure their safety and that of their family.

“This is a busy time of the year but everyone living in bushfire-prone areas or visiting those areas need to ensure they have a Bushfire Survival Plan and be ready to implement it tomorrow. People can visit the CFA website or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667 for this information,” Mr Lapsley said.

New Year’s Eve fireworks displays with a WorkSafe permit will go ahead tomorrow night but require a permit from CFA or MFB if held in Fire Weather Districts with a TFB. There is not expected to be any TFB declarations for Saturday as conditions ease, so fireworks after midnight tomorrow do not require a CFA/MFB permit.

CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said professional fireworks operators understood this process and added that the greater concern was people using illegal fireworks.

“Since 2005, MFB and CFA have attended more than 660 fires started by fireworks or home-made devices. People who use illegal fireworks can be held personally responsible for injuries or damage and face harsh penalties including jail,” he said.

Mr Ferguson reminded farmers to ensure all equipment was well maintained to avoid accidentally starting crop fires and said harvesting should be avoided tomorrow. He said people holding BBQs also needed to be careful and test their equipment.

EXTREME - What does it mean?
- Expect extremely hot, dry and windy conditions.
- If a fire starts and takes hold, it will be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving. Spot fires will start, move quickly and come from many directions.
- Homes that are situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire, that are well prepared and actively defended, may provide safety.
- You must be physically and mentally prepared to defend in these conditions.

What should I do?
• Consider staying with your property only if you are prepared to the highest level. This means your home needs to be situated and constructed or modified to withstand a bushfire, you are well prepared and you can actively defend your home if a fire starts
• If you are not prepared to the highest level, leaving high risk bushfire areas early in the day is your safest option
• Be aware of local conditions and seek information by listening to your emergency broadcasters, go to the building a home page (on cfa.vic.gov.au) or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

SEVERE -- What does it mean?
- Expect hot, dry and possibly windy conditions.
- If a fire starts and takes hold, it may be uncontrollable.
- Well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety.
- You must be physically and mentally prepared to defend in these conditions.

What should I do?
• Well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety - check your bushfire survival plan.
• If you are not prepared, leaving bushfire prone areas early in the day is your safest option.
• Be aware of local conditions and seek information by listening to your emergency broadcasters, go to cfa.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

For information (including on the other Fire Danger Ratings) visit cfa.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

For information on how to obtain a Total Fire Ban permit from the MFB click here

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