Rain delays start of fire season

November 20, 2022 BY

DELWP firefighters have been conducting fuel reduction operations throughout the region. Photo: DELWP

THE Country Fire Authority (CFA) predicts it could be as late as December before it declares a Fire Danger Period (FDP) for the region due to the ongoing influence of La Niña on weather patterns.

Above average and widespread rainfall coupled with cooler temperatures has delayed the introduction of FDP’s across the state, with Mildura the first to enter a FDP as of Monday, November 21)– three weeks later than usual for the region.

The primary focus of the CFA for the upcoming season is the increased risk of grassfires due to the wet spring having generated “enormous grass growth”, Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said.

The assistant chief fire officer for District 7 Brendan Lawson said an FDP start date for the region was yet to be decided.

“As we start to dry out with some northerly winds and higher temperatures the grass will cure quite quickly, but until we start to see that it’s hard to predict the date,” he said.

“I anticipate some time in December, but it’s hard to predict while have rain like we have had in the last 24 hours,” he said on Monday.
The 2021 season for Geelong, Surf Coast and the Bellarine was similarly delayed last year and not declared until December 20.

The CFA is yet to declare a Fire Danger Period for the region. Photo: CFA

Mr Lawson said the weather has enabled the CFA and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to conduct fuel reduction burns that will help this season, but it has also presented hurdles.

“The challenge we’ve had over the last couple of years with impacts of La Niña is the biomass that’s currently out there we haven’t been able to address, and at some stage that will dry out and it’s a lot of fuel that’s available when the conditions suit,” he said.

“That’s why we’ve got our eyes on the ball as to what the weather does in the future… if we get three or four hot dry days we could still have, and will still have, fast running grass fires that could impact the community.”

He urged households and land managers to be aware of the increased growth and use the following weeks to get on top of fuel mitigation.

“It’s very important when the weather dries out to make sure their homes and their properties are prepared because it only takes one ignition in the right conditions and certainly the community could be impacted.”

For updates, head to cfa.vic.gov.au