As a landowner or leaseholder, you are responsible for managing fire risks on your property by ensuring that it is clean and free of any long grass and debris that could pose a fire hazard.
This responsibility covers residential properties, commercial properties, and any vacant land you own within the municipality.
Your Hazard Reduction Checklist
Use the following checklist as a guide to help you prepare your property in the lead up to each fire season:
Cut/mow any long grass so that it is no higher than 100mm.
Remove any flammable material around your home, including cleaning out gutters.
Clear away dead undergrowth and fallen branches.
Ensure that any firewood is stored well away from your home and outbuildings.
Remove any noxious and environmental weeds from your property.
Ensure that your property is clearly numbered so that it can be easily found by Emergency Services should the need arise.
Trim excess vegetation along driveways and firebreaks, including any overhanging branches, to provide easy access for fire fighting appliances. As a guide, the CFA requires a minimum clearance of four metres wide x four metres high.
As the closest level of government to the community, Council plays a critical role in Victoria’s emergency management arrangements for our region.
What is Council’s role?
Council has a number of key roles in emergency management:
Implement State-initiated preventative strategies, such as planning and building codes, planning for floods, health risk and fire management;
Undertake local risk management and emergency planning;
Develop and implement community education and awareness programs, involving the community (where possible) in emergency management planning;
Incorporate risk reduction strategies into local safety programs;
Provide services to support persons in particular need;
Provide equipment support to emergency services agencies;
Manage and support community recovery programs, policies and strategies;
Manage community needs in all emergency management processes; and
Provide support and recovery assistance to those affected by emergencies in the community.
To achieve this, Council has appointed a Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee (MEMPC).
Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee (MEMPC)
The role of the MEMPC is to develop the Municipal Emergency Management Plan for Council’s consideration.
The Committee meets four times a year and comprises representatives from City of Ballarat Councillors and staff; Victoria Police; State Emergency Services (Vic); the Country Fire Authority; Department of Sustainability and Environment; Ambulance Victoria; Ballarat Health Services; Australian Red Cross; Department of Human Services; Central Highlands Water; the Department of Education & Early Childhood Development; Lifeline; VicRoads, and WICEN.
Committee members include people in key emergency management roles, such as the:
MEM – Municipal Emergency Manager (Council Representative);
MERO – Municipal Emergency Resource Officer (Council Representative);
MRM – Municipal Recovery Manager (Council Representative);
MERC – Municipal Emergency Response Co-ordinator (Victoria Police member); and
MFPO – Municipal Fire Prevention Officer (Council Representative).
One of the key functions of the MEMPC is to develop a Municipal Emergency Management Plan for the City of Ballarat, as required under Section 20(1) of theEmergency Management Act 1986.
The current Municipal Emergency Management Plan addresses the prevention of, and response to, a range of emergencies within the municipality, as well as recovery activities once an emergency has passed.
Council’s role in fire safety and risk management
Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission (VBRC) recommendations
The VBRC was established in February 2009 to investigate the causes and responses to the Black Saturday bushfires which swept through parts of Victoria earlier that year. The Commission’s Final Report contained a series ofrecommendations, all of which were subsequently adopted by the Victorian Government.
Many of these recommendations required either direct or indirect action by a variety of agencies and levels of government, including the City of Ballarat, and included (among others) developing plans for community evacuation and shelter, developing and maintaining a vulnerable persons list, identifying hazard trees and designating community fire refuges.
An independent monitor was appointed by the State Government to observe and report on progress with implementation of the VBRC recommendations.
Council’s Fire Prevention Program
Council’s annual Fire Prevention Program aims to reduce the risk of bush and grassfires in and around Ballarat. In the lead up to each fire season, our Fire Prevention Officer actively works to identify and reduce fire hazards on both Council and private land.
The Country Fire Authority is one of the agencies responsible for reducing the threat of bushfires in Victoria and managing their impact. It does this by working with the community to improve safety through prevention, community preparedness, education and fire protection activities.