Many complex arrangements exist within the State regarding responsibilities for fire prevention on different lands. The following information gives a general overview of different agencies’ responsibilities for fire prevention.
You should be aware that there may be variations to this general overview in particular areas. Contact the landowner or your local CFA Region office to clarify any local arrangements.
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)
- Other Stakeholders
- Power Companies
- Water Authorities and Catchment Management Authorities
- Roads Authorities
- Owners and occupiers
Municipal Fire Prevention is a statutory responsibility of all Municipalities falling within the Country Area of Victoria. Section 43 of the CFA Act states ‘it is the duty of every municipal council and public authority to take all practical steps (including burning) to prevent the occurrence of fires on, and minimise the danger of the spread of fires on and from – any land vested in it or under its control or management: and any road under its care and management’.
The Municipality appoints a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer (MFPO) to act as the executive officer of the Municipal Fire Prevention Committee (MFPC). The MFPO is responsible for issuing permits to burn during the fire danger period and issuing fire prevention notices for hazard removal to private landowners in their municipality.
Municipalities have prosecution powers under the CFA Act, relating specifically to failure to comply with Fire Prevention Notices and breaching conditions of Permits to Burn issued during the Fire Danger Period. Councils may enter private lands to remove fire hazards if fire prevention notices are not complied with. Victoria Police prosecute other offences relating to fire pursuant to the CFA Act, the Crimes Act and the Summary Offences Act. The police are also responsible for undertaking prosecutions for illegal burning without a permit during the Fire Danger Period
More info: Municipal Association of Victoria
CFA provides policy, planning, leadership, standards for training and best practice advice in Municipal Fire Prevention. CFA is represented on Municipal Fire Prevention Committees and Regional Fire Prevention Committees and also carries the audit responsibility for Municipal Fire Prevention Plans.
Under certain circumstances CFA may issue permits to burn and fire prevention notices. CFA also arbitrate appeals against Fire Prevention Notices.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)
The CFA Act 1958 defines the Country Area of Victoria as 'that part of Victoria which lies outside the Metropolitan Fire District, but does not include any forest national park or protected public land'. DELWP is solely responsible for fire prevention and management in forests, national parks and protected public lands. Some lands adjacent to these public lands are also subject to control by DELWP.
More info: http://www.delwp.vic.gov.au/about-us
The CFA Act states ‘it is the duty of every municipal council and public authority to take all practical steps (including burning) to prevent the occurrence of fires on, and minimise the danger of the spread of fires on and from – any land vested in it or under its control or management: and any road under its care and management'.
Power companies are required to prepare Bushfire Mitigation Plans as outlined in the Electrical Safety Act 1998. They are also required to prepare an annual Vegetation Management Plan pursuant to the Electricity Safety (Electric Line Clearance) Regulations 1999. Energy Safe Victoria - Electrical oversees these functions.
Railway governance and management arrangements are complex in Victoria. Put simply Victorian Rail Track Corporation (Vic Track) and the Public Transport Division (PTD) are public authorities, and they have ultimate accountability for fire prevention and mitigation activities on rail lines. Through lease agreements and franchising arrangements these authorities discharge their responsibilities to private rail companies who in turn contract out maintenance arrangements. Fire Prevention Notices cannot be served upon public authorities.
Arrangements in this area are complex due to a mix of private companies and public authorities having responsibility for the provision of water.
The provision of water is currently the responsibility of several authorities and organisations. DSE and Parks Victoria are primarily responsible for fire prevention and suppression in Victoria’s water catchment areas as most of Victoria's significant reservoirs and catchment areas are located in National Parks or State Forests.
There are some exceptions to this rule where land lies in the country area of Victoria, giving CFA fire suppression obligations in these areas and MFPCs and authorities fire prevention responsibilities. Contact the relevant Water Authority or Catchment Authority for more detail on specific fire prevention responsibilities.
VicRoads are responsible for the maintenance of all declared roads such as major arterials, forest roads and tourist roads. Municipalities are responsible for all other local rural roads. VicRoads and Councils are responsible for fire prevention and risk management on public roads. Private roads are the responsibility of the road owner.
See Also: Vicroads
Owners and occupiers have responsibilities to ensure their properties are free of fire hazards that may put the lives and property of others at risk. MFPOs and their assistants have a duty to ensure that Fire Prevention Notices are issued where required and to enter private land to remove those hazards if they are not treated within the time frame or manner stipulated on the Fire Prevention Notice. If a Fire Prevention Notice is not acted upon owners or occupiers may be liable to a penalty infringement notice or prosecution in court. The costs associated with the removal of the fire hazard are billed to the owner or occupier of the property.
Residents are asked to have input into Municipal Fire Prevention Plans via community consultation processes whilst plans are being produced. There is scope for residents groups to have representation on the Municipal Fire Prevention Committee. Municipal fire prevention plans are available for the community to view at all Councils. Some Municipalities have their plans available on their Council Websites.