Emergency Management

Emergencies can happen at any time and are usually unexpected. Ararat Rural City Council is exposed to a variety of natural hazards, including floods, fires and storms.
Council and emergency services are here to help in the event of an emergency, but there are things that can be done to ensure the safety of homes and businesses.
It is important that all of the community have an emergency plan and get involved in  community planning to help to help prepare for an emergency.


Ararat Rural City Council works in partnership with the community, responsible authorities and other relevant agencies and organisation to prevent and minimise the occurrence of emergencies and their impact on the community. 
Through this collaboration, Council has developments a municipal plan that details strategic actions that occur before, during and after an emergency. 
For prevention and management of an emergency, Ararat Rural City Council will:
•    Prepare the Municipal Emergency Management Plan (MEMP) which includes specific sub plans for fire, floods, storms, heatwaves and pandemics
•    Implement relevant local government legislation (e.g. fire, health, building and planning)
•    Assess hazards and undertake appropriate preventative measures like private property fire hazard inspections.
•    Provide support to community resilience-building programs,
•    Work with other councils across the Grampians region to increase our capacity and capability to respond in an emergency.


Fire Danger Period
Fire Danger Period for the Ararat Rural City Council is in effect from the 20th November 2023 to 1st May 2024.


Prepare your property
Reduce the fuel load on your property:
•    Mowing or slashing grass and weeks to less than 10cm in height
•    Raking up leaves and bark in the immediate area around buildings
•    Pruning low branches from around buildings and fences
•    Removing rubbish and garden waste
The CFA website has more information on how to maintain your property. You may be able to burn off in some areas but be sure to check permit requirements first. Please continue reading for further information.
 

Permits to Burn
Permit to Burn - Rural Zones

Outside of a declared Fire Danger Period, persons in a rural zone do not require a permit.
During a declared Fire Danger Period, persons in a rural zone may apply to the CFA for a Schedule 13 permit to Burn Fine Fuel such as grass, stubble or weeds. A permit will only be granted where there is an essential need to burn during the Fire Danger Period. In Ararat Rural City Council, the CFA issue Schedule 13 Permits online via the Fire Permits Victoria website www.firepermits.vic.gov.au
 

Permit to Burn - Urban Zones

Under council’s Neighbourhood Amenity Local Law 2022, an Open Air Burning Permit is required to burn materials exceeding one cubic meter in size on land zoned as Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Public Land, Rural Living and Special Use Zone in the Ararat Planning Scheme, outside of a declared Fire Danger Period. 
Burning in these zones is not permitted during the Fire Danger Period.
More information on fire restrictions can be found on the Country Fire Authority website www.cfa.vic.gov.au
 

Fire Hazard Inspections
Fire Hazard Inspections Process

Our Fire Prevention Officers inspect properties across the Ararat Rural City Council starting in November each year.
Fire Prevention Notices will be issued to property owners who have not taken appropriate measures to reduce the risk of fire on their property. To find out more about Fire Prevention Notices, read our Fire Prevention Notices FAQs below.
If you do not comply with the notice, you will face penalties including:
•    All contractor costs, plus
•    Administration fee of $175 plus
•    An infringement penalty of $1,923

Step 1: Advisory Letter

If you received a Fire Prevention Notice last year, we may send you an Advisory Letter before inspections commence in November.
This letter is a reminder that all residents have  legal responsibility to maintain their properties in order to reduce the threat and spread of bush and grass fires. It is sent out as a courtesy, allowing you time to prepare your property ahead of any inspections made by our Fire Prevention Officers.

Step 2. First Inspection


Our Fire Prevention Officers conduct fire hazard inspections throughout the council starting in November each year. They will visit your area to make sure your neighbourhood in safe and prepared for the season.
If we see a property with a fire hazard, we will issue a Fire Prevention Notice. This notice requires the property owner to remove the specified hazard in 21 days from the issue date of the notice. Failure to act will lead to further action and an infringement.

Step 3: Second Inspection


Our officers will conduct a second and final inspection after the due date listed on your Fire Prevention Notice. This inspection is scheduled in order to check that the hazard has been removed.
If the hazard has been removed, the officer will make note of your compliance and this will be the end of the matter.
If the hazard has not been removed, council will engage a contractor to remove the hazard at the cost of the property owner. This is called compulsory clearance.
Costs associated at this stage
If the property passes the second inspection, no fees will be incurred.
If the property fails the second inspection, the matter progresses to the next stage and fees will be incurred.

Step 4: Compulsory Clearance


An authorised contractor will attend the property and remove the fire hazard within seven days of the second inspection. If the contractor arrives and the hazard has been removed, you will only be charged for the contractor’s time to attend the site along with an administration fee,  rather than the full contractors fee for works.
Costs associated at this stage
•    Contractors costs plus
•    $175 Administration fee

 

Step 5: Infringement

Council will issue a Fire Hazard Infringement to property owners who fail to comply with the Fire Prevention Notice. These are issued under Section 41D of the Country Fire Authority Act 1958. Failure to pay the penalty can result in further litigation.
Cost associated at this stage
•    $1923 infringement penalty 

Fire Prevention Notices - Frequently Asked Questions
Why does council issue Fire Prevention Notices?

Under the Country Fire Authority Act 1958, council has a legal obligation to ensure that the community fire risk is reduced. Municipal Fire Prevention Officers have powers to inspect properties and issue a Fire Prevention Notice where necessary. Council also has the legal right to act on and remove a fire hazard on private land and to recoup the costs if the landowner fails to comply.

Why did I receive a Fire Prevention Notice?

Council’s Municipal Fire Prevention Officers have recently assessed your property for fire hazards and determined that you need to reduce fire hazards on your property.

What do I have to do?

You must follow the directions outlined within the notice that you have been issued and ensure that these works are carried out by the provided completion date. You must maintain your property for the duration of the Fire Danger Period.  

But I have just cut my grass!

If you have already carried out the requirements listed on the notice, then you don’t need to worry. Contact the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer to let council know and continue to maintain your property for the duration of the Fire Danger Period.

I am having difficulty getting the work completed by the deadline, can I have an extension?

Contact the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer to discuss your individual situation. 

What will happen if I do not comply with a Fire Prevention Notice?

If the works required have not been completed to the satisfaction of the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer by the due date, a contractor will be engaged to carry out the required work. These costs will be charged to you. You may also receive a fine of $1923 for failing to comply with a Fire Prevention Notice.

My neighbour’s property is a fire hazard.

If you are aware of a property that requires attention, please contact our Customer Service Team on  0353 0200. Council’s Municipal Fire Prevention Officers will inspect the property and issue the landowner with a Fire Prevention Notice if required.

There is long grass next door, I am worried about snakes.

Snakes are common and often seek out refuge close to homes as they are always on the lookout for environments that provide shelter, food and water. If it is possible, try to remove the source of attraction from your property, such as wood piles, and stock feed. It is advisable to keep a well-maintained open area where children can play away form any long grass. There is nothing that councils can do about snakes as they are a protected native species. We can inspect the property of concerns and if the long grass poses a fire hazard, we will issue the landowner with a Fire Prevention Notice.

Where can I find more information about preparing my property for fire?

The CFA has excellent resources to assist residents and landowners prepare their homes for fire. Please contact the CFA Community Education Coordinator at your local CFA Regional Office or check www.cfa.vic.gov.au for further information.

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