Preparing your property for fire

Overview

As with any emergency, the key to improving the chance of survival for your property and family is to prepare.

The CFA provides useful information about how to prepare your property.

Fuel reduction around your property

To minimise smoke nuisance and air pollution concerns, landowners/occupiers are encouraged to explore alternative avenues for fuel reduction (other than burning) where possible.

Options include:

  • Using your weekly green waste collection for smaller amounts of green waste
  • Using your green waste vouchers for larger trailer loads of green waste, for free disposal at the Recycling and Recovery Centre
  • Hire a fire prevention contractor to help with the cleanup
  • Mulching smaller material for placement on garden beds or placing small amounts in with compost to aerate the compost mixture
  • Chipping branches for placement on gardens beds

 

Burning off

Removing grass, stubble, weeds, undergrowth or other vegetation is an important part of reducing the fuel load around your property. Burning off can be a good way of disposing of these materials. 

To minimise smoke nuisance and air pollution concerns, make sure to consider other options for fuel reduction around your property first.

To ensure the safety of all residents, landowners may be required to apply for a permit to burn off. This will depend on the time of year and the size of your property.

Please note that burning off during the Fire Danger Period is prohibited on all properties, regardless of size.

The use of incinerators is also prohibited on all properties in the Shire of Nillumbik.

To find out if you can burn off, and if a permit is required, select the size of your property below

Properties 1 acre (0.4 hectares) or less

When do you want to burn off?

  • During the Fire Danger Period
    • Burning off during the Fire Danger Period is prohibited on all properties, regardless of size. Any permit that was previously active becomes void as soon as the Fire Danger Period is declared. There are very limited circumstances in which a permit may be issued - see the CFA website for more information.
  • From the end of the Fire Danger Period to 30 September
    • No burning allowed during this period.
  • From 1 October to the start of the Fire Danger Period

Properties over 1 acre (0.4 hectares)

When do you want to burn off?

  • During the Fire Danger Period
    • Burning off during the Fire Danger Period is prohibited on all properties, regardless of size. Any permit that was previously active becomes void as soon as the Fire Danger Period is declared. There are very limited circumstances in which a permit may be issued - see the CFA website for more information.
  • Outside of the Fire Danger Period
    • If you wish to burn a small heap: no Permit to Burn is required. Burn offs must follow the guidelines on the CFA website and must be registered (notified) via the Fire Permits Victoria website to prevent fire brigades being called out unnecessarily.
    • If you wish to burn a large heap (a pile that occupies an area greater than 10 square metres or over 25 cubic metres in volume): a Permit to Burn is required. Council will only issue a permit for genuine fire prevention purposes to remove fuel hazards.

If you are concerned about a burn outside of the Fire Danger Period which you believe may be illegal, you can let Council know and we will investigate.

 

Vegetation management for bushfire protection

Generally, if you want to clear vegetation from your property you may need a planning permit.

However if your property is located in an area where there is a bushfire hazard, you may be able to clear vegetation without a permit – allowing you to create or maintain defendable space for bushfire protection.

The rules that stipulate what vegetation can be cleared are commonly referred to as the 10/30 and 10/50 rules.

Before you clear vegetation, you should check if the rules apply to your property.

Finding out which rule applies

You can create a free planning property report from VicPlan, the Victorian Government online planning maps. 

This will tell you if your property is in a bushfire prone area, Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) and what zone and other overlays apply.

You will also need to know when the building (eg your house) was constructed, or when the planning permit for the building was issued.

Find out more about using VicPlan.

10/30 rule

This rule applies to buildings that are:

  • located in an area that is designated as a bushfire prone area under the Building Act 1993,
  • used for accommodation, such as a house, and
  • built or approved before a certain date in 2009 (see ‘more about the 10/30 rule’ below)

If the 10/30 rule applies to your property, then you may:

  • clear any vegetation within 10m of an existing building
  • clear vegetation other than trees within 30m of an existing building

If your building does not meet the requirements (eg was built or approved after 2009) you may need to apply for a planning permit to clear vegetation.

10/50 rule

This rule applies to buildings that are:

  • located in the Bushfire Management Overlay,
  • used for accommodation, such as a house, and
  • built or approved before a certain date in 2009 (see ‘more about the 10/50 rule’ below)

If the 10/50 rule applies to your property, then you may:

  • clear any vegetation within 10m of an existing building
  • clear vegetation other than trees within 50m of an existing building

If your building does not meet the requirements (eg was built or approved after 2009) you may need to apply for a planning permit to clear vegetation.

Clearing along a fence line

If a fence is built before 10 September 2009, landowners and residents are allowed to clear any vegetation for a maximum combined width of four metres along an existing property boundary fence.

The fence line rule applies to areas designated as bushfire prone area (including the Bushfire Management Overlay) under the Building Act 1993.

More about the fence line clearing rule.

 

To discuss these rules and how they apply to your property, please contact Nillumbik’s Planning Services team on 03 9433 3343.

 

Fire Hazard Inspection Program and Fire Prevention Notices

Nillumbik is a bushfire-prone region, and bushfire prevention is everyone’s responsibility. Getting fire ready should be part of your property maintenance plans all year round, not just once the weather gets warmer. 

In the lead up to and during the Fire Danger Period, our Fire Prevention Officers carry out a Hazard Inspection Program, checking properties across Nillumbik.

The Fire Hazard Inspection Program process

1. ‘Prepare your Property’ letter

A ‘Prepare Your Property’ Letter is issued to property owners in the Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) and vacant landholders as a reminder to prepare their property for the coming fire season.

All property owners and residents have a responsibility and expectation upon them to maintain their properties and reduce the threat and spread of bush and grass fires.

Cost associated at this stage: $0.00

2. First inspection

Fire Prevention Officers conduct fire hazard inspections to ensure neighbourhoods are prepared for the fire season.

  • If the property owner has adequately prepared their property, no further action will be required.
  • If a property is identified and determined as a fire hazard, a Fire Prevention Notice (FPN) will be issued requiring all property owners to remove the defined hazard by a specified date.

Cost associated at this stage: $0.00

3. Second inspection

For properties that have been issued a Fire Prevention Notice, Fire Prevention Officers will conduct a second inspection after the expiry date on the Notice, to confirm that the fire hazard has been removed.

  • If the Fire Prevention Notice has been complied with, no further action will be required.
  • If the Fire Prevention Notice has not been complied with, Council will engage a contractor to remove the fire hazard. This is called a “compulsory clearance”.

Costs associated at this stage: $0.00

4. Compulsory clearance

Within seven days of the second inspection, an authorised contractor will remove the fire hazard. All fees associated with this action will be borne by the property owner.

Costs associated at this stage: dependent on size of property and required works.

5. Infringement

On top of the cost of the compulsory clearance, Council will also issue an infringement to property owners who fail to comply with a Fire Prevention Notice.

Infringements carry a maximum penalty of 120 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment.

Costs associated at this stage: $1817 infringement penalty

If you have received a Fire Prevention Notice infringement you can pay your fine online.

 

Fire Prevention Notices - frequently asked questions

What is a Fire Prevention Notice?

It is a legal direction, issued under the CFA Act, which directs a landowner to undertake fire prevention works.

Works involve reducing the amount of fuel (such as grass, weeds and branches) on their property – the particular works will be specified on the Notice.

These fire prevention works minimise the fire risk during the summer. These steps are necessary to protect your life and property, and that of your neighbours, from the threat of fire. 

What should I do if I receive a Fire Prevention Notice?

Property owners are required to complete the fire prevention works and remove fire hazards as detailed in the Fire Prevention Notice.

You must also maintain your property in that condition for the duration of the Fire Danger Period.

When do I need to complete these works?

Prior to the expiry date as shown on the Fire Prevention Notice.

What happens if I ignore a Fire Prevention Notice?

Council will arrange for the works specified in the Notice to be undertaken by a contractor. The cost of undertaking and arranging these works will be invoiced directly to you. If the account is not paid, Council can take steps to recover the costs plus interest on the amount owed.

The Municipal Fire Prevention Officer will also serve you with an infringement notice for $1817. Failure to pay the infringement penalty within 28 days may result in enforcement action and further costs. Proceedings may be taken against you which carry a maximum of 120 penalty units, 12 months’ imprisonment or both.

Ignoring a Fire Prevention Notice will create far greater costs compared to employing a contractor or undertaking the work yourself.

It should also be noted that this is a ‘compulsory clearance’ in accordance with the CFA Act and not a service provided by Council.

What if the property owner does not receive the Fire Prevention Notice?

Notices are sent to the last known address according to Council rates records. It is the responsibility of the property owner to advise Council of any change in postal address.

Under the CFA Act a notice sent to the last known postal address is deemed to be served. However property owners should not wait for a notice to be served; fire prevention is an ongoing responsibility.

Change your postal address here.

Who issues Fire Prevention Notices?

Municipal Fire Prevention Officers are authorised under Section 41 of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 and Section 5A of the Fire Rescue Victoria Act 1958.

Nillumbik Shire Council has a team of Fire Prevention Officers who carry out inspections of private property over several weeks prior to and during each fire season.

Notices are issued only where fuel reduction works are required.