Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Know how to tell fire danger ratings from total fire bans

The CFA is urging district residents to know the difference between Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans.

December 12, 2012 4:03am

With summer now upon us, the CFA is urging district residents to know the difference between Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans.

CFA chief Euan Ferguson said Fire Danger Ratings helped people to know how a fire might behave, while a Total Fire Ban was a legal declaration to cease activities which may cause a fire.

Mr Ferguson said Fire Danger Ratings were a trigger to act.

‘‘They indicate how easily a fire can start, how intense it could burn, how difficult it will be to put out and how much damage it could cause,’’ he said.

‘‘The higher the Fire Danger Rating, the greater risk to control the fire, therefore increasing the risk to lives and property.

‘‘The ratings are all about safeguarding your own personal safety and the safety of your family, which is paramount.

‘‘Everyone who lives or visits high risk areas in summer should visit to check the Fire Danger Rating for their area every day.’’

The ratings also told people when conditions were dangerous enough to enact their bushfire survival plan.

Ratings are forecast using Bureau of Meteorology data for up to four days in advance, based on weather and other environmental conditions such as fuel loads.

Mr Ferguson said fire bans were legal restrictions designed to prevent fires from starting.

He said strict penalties applied for all breaches, which were referred to police.

‘‘A severe, extreme or code red FDR on the other hand, should act as a trigger to leave early,’’ he said.

‘‘The FDR system, which includes six ratings from low/moderate to code red, helps you to know when the conditions are dangerous enough to prompt you to leave early.

‘‘Leaving early before a fire has even started is the only way to guarantee your family’s safety on a bad day.

‘‘Your plan needs to cover what you will do and where and when you will go well before there are any signs of fire.’’

Mr Ferguson said most people in high-risk bushfire areas knew a code red rating meant they should leave that morning or the night before.

‘‘But not as many of us are aware that leaving early on severe or extreme days should also be a serious consideration, particularly if your house is not well-prepared or if you have children in your care,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as different areas of Victoria have different risk profiles.

‘‘If you’re not sure, I’d strongly recommend you to talk to your local brigade or book a free assessment through CFA’s Home Bushfire Advice Service.’’

To find out the daily Fire Danger Rating or Total Fire Ban status, go to or phone the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

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