Derwent Valley Council receives many enquiries and complaints relating to potential fire hazards, especially over the summer period.
This information sheet has been produced to help customers understand the process taken by Council when complaints are received about potential fire hazards, as well as providing information on how you can best protect your property from the risk of fire damage.
Does Council deal with fire hazards?
Yes. Council monitors vacant land, vacant house lots, rural residential land and receives notification from neighbours in regards to potential fire hazards. Council also has its own vacant land that is scheduled to be cleared before the fire season by the reserves foreman.
What procedure does Council follow to have fire hazards cleared?
Step 1 - Fire Abatement officers trace the owners of the land on which the hazard exists. This can sometimes be a difficult process as properties may change ownership several times and depending on the backlog at the titles office, records may not be current.
Step 2 - Once the landowners are identified, Council informs them of the nuisance on their property, asking them to clear the hazard to an appropriate level and that this level is maintained throughout the summer period. A list of contractors who have indicated that they are willing to do work in the Derwent Valley municipality is included.
Step 3 - Properties are re-inspected and if the property has not been satisfactorily cleared, an abatement notice is issued, typically giving the land owner 14 days to have the land cleared.
Step 4 - The land is re-inspected at the expiration of the abatement period, and if the land has not been cleared, a notice is sent indicating that Council will have the property cleared. Contractors are asked to quote.
Step 4 - The land is cleared and the costs are billed to the land owner.
Step 5 - At any of these steps, when the abatement officer inspects the property and is satisfied that the property has been cleared, an inspection sheet signing off on the works will be issued to the property.
Is the property owner liable?
Yes. If a fire spreads from your property to a neighbouring property you, as the property owner, may be held liable for any damage that occurs to your neighbour's property.
How you can help protect your property from bush fire
Create a clear area around your house. Remove all dead branches and fallen leaves and keep grass cut within at least 20 metres of your home.
Slash long grass well before the fire danger period.
Keep flammable materials away from your house (including wood piles).
Check your water supply. Tanks, dams and swimming pools provide necessary reserves. Investing in a petrol driven portable pump can be invaluable if mains water or electricity is lost to your home during a fire.
Discuss with your family the possibility of a fire and make sure you have a plan in place. Make sure that all members of your family know what to do.
If you require further information please contact Councils Municipal Inspector on (03) 6261 8530.