AS WE reach the 80 per cent vaccination milestone and thousands of Victorians once again flock to our much-loved parks and forests, fire agencies and the Conservation Regulator are urging regional visitors to be vigilant around campfires.

With the Melbourne Cup holiday also approaching, Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman said while he encouraged people to get outdoors and enjoy nature, it was important campfire safety remained a priority.

“Unattended campfires are the cause of more than 10% of all bushfires in Victoria yet are completely avoidable – It only takes one stray ember to cause a destructive bushfire, which is why there are significant fines for those who leave campfires unattended,” Mr Hardman said.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said as thousands of Victorians head back into fire prone parts of the state being cautious around campfires was crucial to community safety.

“Those planning on exploring the great outdoors in the coming weeks must consider the weather conditions before lighting a campfire – if the wind is strong enough to carry sparks, don’t light a campfire,” he said.

Chief Conservation Regulator, Kate Gavens said increased numbers of authorised officers will be out patrolling forests and parks this spring and summer.

“The risks from campfires can be prevented if all campers know and follow rules.”

On the spot fines of $545 apply to those breaching campfire rules or a maximum penalty of up to $18.174 if the matter is prosecuted in court. The maximum penalty for lighting a fire in the open air on a day of Total Fire Ban is $43,617 – or two-years imprisonment, or both. Campers are also reminded to check weather conditions are safe and familiarise themselves with Victoria’s campfire safety rules.

  • In state forests, use a purpose-built fireplace if provided, otherwise use a trench greater than 30cm deep. In National and State Parks campfires must only be lit in designated fireplaces provided. The campfire must not exceed one square metre, while three metres in the air and on the ground around your fire must be clear of flammable material.
  • Branches and logs on your campfire must not exceed one metre in length.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended – stay within 50m and in sight.
  • Campfires must be extinguished with water, not soil, as fires can still smoulder under soil. If a fire is cool to touch, it is safe to leave.
  • Never light a campfire on a Total Fire Ban day.

To report an unattended, campfire call 136 186 to report a bushfire contact 000. For more information and campfire safety rules, go to www.ffm.vic.gov.au  If you’re heading out, remember to check for up to date COVIDSafe information at www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au.