Property owners failing to manage fire risks put community at risk

Published on 12 April 2019

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To reduce the risk of fire and keep the whole community safe, it’s important that everyone plays their part in managing long grass and fire hazards on their properties. 

The summer of 2018/19 was one of the hottest and driest in recent history, meaning fire danger was a concern for the whole community. Council brought forward its roadside slashing program which was mostly completed by December. In some places we added a second and even third cut where required. 

Council’s Community Safety officers inspected over 2,000 residential properties across the Shire to ensure owners were maintaining their properties appropriately. Residential properties are inspected at least twice during the summer period and are constantly monitored to ensure continuing compliance. This constitutes well over 4000 inspections in total. 

Council’s Community Safety officers issued more than 500 ‘Fire Prevention Notices’ to Murrindindi Shire residents and businesses over the course of the summer calling for property owners to clean up long grass and fire risks or face a fine or other enforcement action. 

Mayor Sandice McAulay said Council received more than 100 complaints from residents across the Shire who were worried about long grass on neighbouring properties. 

“This shows the level of unease residents have about safety during the fire season. Council takes community concerns and its legislated responsibilities to minimise fire risk extremely seriously,” Cr McAulay said. 

“Our Council officers work closely with local fire brigades and other authorities, such as the Department of Land, Environment, Water and Planning, to identify and work with property owners to get their fire risks under control.”  

“Unfortunately, even after warnings from Council, some property owners still fail to comply with their fire prevention obligations and as a result we have to take further action to ensure the safety of the community.  

“In these situations, Council can and will step in to undertake the work and then send the invoice to the landholder. It is important the work is done to ensure the safety of the community but it is not appropriate that rate payers foot the bill. 

“In worst case scenarios, when warnings and being billed for necessary fuel reduction work fails to motivate property owners, Council will issue an infringement notice or fine as well.