As the holiday season fast approaches and we get ready for a COVIDSafe summer, Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) is reminding people to stay safe when camping.
Hume Region Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Aaron Kennedy said: “We want you to enjoy our parks and public land and there are things you can do to keep yourself and others safe.
“The first thing to do is remember to stay COVIDSafe. Please visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au for information on up-to-date information on how to stay COVIDSafe.
“Check the weather at your destination before you leave home and consider rescheduling your visit if it coincides with stormy weather or times of high fire danger”, Mr Kennedy said.
“When you arrive at your campsite, be aware of your surroundings and camp at least 20 metres from any stream, lake or reservoir. Trees can also drop limbs, or entire trees can fall, without warning so avoid setting up your tent or parking your car under trees.
“All native plants and animals are protected. Do not cut down or damage standing trees or vegetation and please don’t feed wildlife.
“Always let someone know before you go. You can visit the Victoria Police website for a trip intention form in case of an emergency.
“We’re asking people to be vigilant about campfire safety and if they see a campfire that is unattended, to call 136 186. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure they follow campfire safety rules.
“Campfires in state forests must be ignited in an existing fire pit or be in a trench at least 30 centimetres deep and people can collect fallen wood less than a metre in length for their use.
“All campfires must never be left unattended and need to be extinguished with water, not soil, as fires can still smoulder under soil. If a fire is cool to touch, it is safe to leave,” Mr Kennedy said.
It is illegal to light a campfire on a day of Total Fire Ban, when fires are likely to spread rapidly and be difficult for firefighters to contain. Before lighting a campfire, campers must check if a Total Fire Ban is in place, via:
- the VicEmergency website - https://emergency.vic.gov.au/respond/
- the VicEmergency App
- the VicEmergency Hotline - 1800 226 226
“Keep our forests as beautiful as you find them by not littering. There are no bins, so ensure you take your rubbish home – whatever you bring in to the forest, you must take out.”
Under the Forest Act 1958, on-the-spot fines of $496 can be issued to people breaching campfire safety rules. The maximum penalty for lighting a fire during a Total Fire Ban is $39,652, two years in jail or both.
For more information on camping and campfire safety, go to https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/permits-and-regulations/fire-restrictions-and-regulations
Brittany Evans | Media and Communications Adviser | Hume Region
Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning