The 2017 fire season is going to start early and the CFA is predicting a bad one.
Benalla CFA community safety co-ordinator Phil Rees said it is time for people in Benalla to be thinking about the fire season, to be getting a fire plan in place and to be cleaning up around the garden.
‘‘We turn up to some houses, and you can’t see the front door, we then waste so much time trying to get to the house,’’ Mr Rees said.
‘‘We take much more time trying to protect a house that has not been prepared for the bushfire season, than one that has.
‘‘And protecting the one that is not prepared can slow us down getting to a property where the occupier has done the right thing.
‘‘So we ask people to cut the grass, keep things off the verandah, store any combustible materials safely away from the house and be wary of anything that might burn.
‘‘So don’t have a wood pile stacked up next to the back door and move pot plants away from the house, they can end up being fireballs.’’
Phil Rees said the sad truth was the CFA cannot guarantee a fire truck being able to attend every property in a bush fire scenario.
‘‘In the past we’ve seen five lightning strikes in the one area. We can handle one, but we can’t cover that many,’’ Mr Rees said.
‘‘When you get five strikes over 25 miles we can’t get a truck to them all quickly enough.
‘‘And we’re only volunteers, so our members might have to get out of bed at 3am, then they might be at a job for four to five hours, then they’ll have to go straight to work.
‘‘So the more prepared people are, the easier it is for everyone.’’
An important piece of advice Mr Rees offers is to not assume that you can fight a serious fire by yourself.
Always call triple zero immediately and only attempt to tackle a fire if it is small and you are protected.
‘‘On the news we often see people in thongs and shorts trying to fight fires, but radiant heat is the biggest killer,’’ Mr Rees said.
‘‘Radiant heat is horrific, and it’s a killer, so be prepared and be careful.’’
For help preparing a fire plan and for general advice visit www.cfa.gov.au