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).
The 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 Municipal Emergency Management Plan
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.
The Plan provides for over 50 potential emergency situations, ranging from fire, flood, heatwave and disease, to transport disasters, explosions, biological or chemical contaminations, and many more.
The Plan’s broad objectives are to:
Identify, treat and evaluate potential risks that do and/or could impact on the Ballarat community;
Implement measures to prevent or reduce the likelihood or consequences of emergencies;
Manage arrangements for the utilisation and implementation of municipal resources (that is, resources owned by or under the direct control of the municipal council) and other resources available for use in prevention, preparedness, response and recovery to emergencies;
Develop and administer programs that reduce the community’s vulnerability and increase its capacity for resilience and self-reliance;
Manage support that may be provided to or from adjoining municipalities;
Assist the affected community to recover after an emergency; and
Complement other local, regional and state planning arrangements.
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.
Victorian Bushfire Safety Policy Framework
Council’s role and responsibilities in managing fire risks is outlined in the Victorian Bushfire Safety Policy Framework. The Framework reflects the findings and recommendations of the VBRC and aims to improve bushfire safety for all Victorians by:
Developing a shared responsibility for bushfire safety between the State and local government, fire services and emergency management agencies, communities, households and individuals;
Improving the level of public awareness of bushfire risk and the ability of people to make informed decisions to protect their lives;
Supporting and improving local bushfire safety planning; and
Providing a range of options for individuals and communities to choose from depending on their personal circumstances and location that maximises their prospect of survival in a bushfire.
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, including:
The development/enforcement of relevant legislation and regulations.
Planning and/or implementing improved safety and information systems.
Supporting the development of an aware and prepared community.
Community development process to enable communities to deal with emergencies.
The provision of support through information, resources or coordination to other organisations or personnel preparing for, or engaging in, prevention tasks.
Risk profiling to identify key safety processes and priorities.
Planning and/or providing anything ancillary to the activities outlined above.