Bushfires Policy

PRINCIPLES

1. Fire is an integral part of many Australian landscapes but varies in its behaviour, intensity and frequency. Weather plays a critical role in fire behaviour. Climate change is amplifying weather extremes which greatly exacerbates fire behaviour.

2. Evidence based decision making must be central to all aspects of bushfire prevention, management and planning, while protecting human life.

3. A defensible and responsible fire policy maximises the protection of human life while minimising environmental damage.

4. Many bushfires are started by human activity – accidental, negligent, or malicious.

5. A well-resourced emergency services sector is an essential asset for a safer, more secure community.

6. Ongoing, well-funded education and training programs for the community are essential to be adequately prepared.

7. Early detection, attack and warning systems are essential for the effective containment of bushfires.

8. The effect of disturbances, such as logging, grazing, weed infestation and feral animals, on bushfire incidence and severity needs to be much better understood to mitigate risks and impacts.

9. Land use planning and building regulation has an important role in minimising the risks and impacts of bushfires.

AIMS

Safer Communities

1. Mandate underground power lines in all new developments where fire risk is high

2. Proper maintenance of all power lines by power distribution companies, with independent oversight.

3. Evidence-based measures to reduce risks associated with existing power distribution infrastructure, for example aerial bundling of cables.

4. Prohibit the use of machinery with the potential to ignite fires on Total Fire Ban days, including, but not limited to, harvesters and logging machinery, unless involved in life-saving services.

5. An improvement in public understanding of how to use landscape features and fire retardant vegetation for residential fire protection.

6. Victorians are better prepared and more self-reliant in bushfire risk zones.

7. Communities becoming ‘fire smart’ through incentives, education and training.

8. The development of greater choices for sheltering from bushfires.

9. Ensuring more effective and active partnerships between communities and emergency services.

10. Comprehensive local warning systems

11. Funding, equipment, personnel and early detection systems for rapid early attack capabilities in all regions at risk.

12. Comprehensive and effective bushfire response planning for the vulnerable people in the community.

13. Evidence-based ecologically sympathetic methods of creating safer, more defendable zones around houses and townships.

14. Encouraging and utilising locally developed best practice for warning and communication systems and fire safety planning.

15. Ensuring ongoing maintenance of places of last resort (neighbourhood safer places and community fire refuges).

16. Providing rebates for installation of residential fire safety systems.

17. Reviewing and improving emergency warning systems including fire weather warnings.

Wildlife

16. Resources to increase the rate of survival and rehabilitation of affected wildlife.

17. Trained wildlife volunteers to be allowed to access to areas immediately after a fire to rescue, feed or humanely destroy suffering wildlife.

18. Properly resourced and evidence-based planned burning regimes that:

  • a. Reflect tolerable fire intervals for respective Ecological Vegetation Divisions (EVDs);
  • b. Ensure proper biodiversity assessment of Fire Operation Plans (FOPs) by the responsible government departments;
  • c. Involve Traditional Owners and local communities with local biodiversity knowledge;
  • d. Exclude long unburnt representative areas;
  • e. Require fuel hazard re-assessment with on-site inspection immediately prior to burning;
  • f. Consider an area as “treated” if fuel levels are below the designated threshold;
  • g. Do not alter the composition of dominant canopy species, for example by rake hoeing around the base of all large, old trees; and,
  • h. Reduce the number of large old trees cut down after the fire and cease blanket salvage logging

19. Significantly greater resourcing for biodiversity assessment of Fire Operation Plans (FOPs).

20. Fire agencies should minimise the size of areas burnt in “back burns” in view of their likely impact on fleeing wildlife.

21. Review the practice of burning out of unburnt “islands” within the burnt areas as a standard requirement post fire management.

22. The impact on wildlife to be included in ecological assessments undertaken before any fuel reduction burn.

23. Advance public understanding of bushfire, to ensure Victoria develops world’s best practice in fire prevention, management and control.

25. Bushfire research and fire suppression techniques taking into account the need to halt biodiversity decline.

26. Increasing research funding to advance fire agencies understanding of fire and the environment, and fire risk minimisation.

27. Further research and review into the ever-increasing impact of climate change on bushfire behaviour.

28. Increasing research and understanding of the many ways people react in times of extreme emergency.

29. Further research and review into the impact on biota, including humans, of fire retardant chemicals used in fire suppression.

31. Encouraging the scientific community to use plain language to bring bushfire information and expertise to the broader community, ensuring evidence-based justification and risk assessment of all prescribed burns

32. Improving the scientific accountability of fire management and mitigation measures.

Planning

33. Planning schemes that site houses and subdivisions such that fire mitigation work is not required on public land.

34. Incorporating bushfire risks regulations for the location and maintenance of plantations.

35. Changing government plans for logging state forests adjacent to residential interface to reduce flammable regeneration.

36. Reconciling Fire Zones with Planning Zones and identifying high fire risk zones to limit subdivision in dangerous interface areas.

Fire Emergency Services

37. The provision of well-resourced fire emergency services.

38. The provision of technologically up-to-date rapid fire-detection systems and equipment.

39. Continued development and deployment of emergency community alert systems to ensure the most effective, broad ranging alert systems are in place.

40. Streamlined fire services administration to ensure more immediate and direct responses to emergency situations.

41. Providing integrated state fire services.

42. Review of staffing and stations in new peri-urban areas and regional interface areas.

 

44. Ensuring emergency telephone systems are adequate for the task and are properly staffed to prevent excessive delay (or failure) in times of fire disaster, in conjunction with full radio coverage.

45. Measures to address fragility of modern telecommunications systems during bushfires.

 

Bushfires Policy as amended by State Council on 16 May 2020.