Rural families urged to have a fire plan these school holidays

Rural landholders are being urged to stay safe and protect their home and family during the July 2019 school holidays.

This means having a solid plan in place and preparing properties against the risk of wildfires.

Bushfires NT Executive Director, Collene Bremner, said the mid-year school holidays is always a busy period for staff and volunteers each and every year.

“There’s no guarantee our crews will be able to respond to each and every call if fires get out of control and that’s why families need to have a fire management plan,” Ms Bremner said.

“Earlier this week we dealt with significant fires near Batchelor and Fly Creek that impacted several properties, which either had high fuel loads and/or no fire breaks.”

Ms Bremner said the Top End fire danger period and area would be declared from 1 July to 31 December 2019.

“This means that a permit to burn is required anywhere within the declared area before any burning is conducted and a person must not leave an area before thoroughly extinguishing any fire they have lit,” Ms Bremner said.

“The declared area lies north of the 19th parallel of South latitude (approximately 70km north of Tennant Creek).

“Failure to comply with these conditions could result in substantial penalties, as well as putting lives, property and the environment at risk.”

Ms Bremner said there are a few simple tips rural landholders should follow to protect their homes and families during the Top End fire season.

“This includes keeping fuel loads to a minimum around your property by clearing away dried grass, dead leaves and branches,” Ms Bremner said.

“Trim back trees that overhang structures and control or eradicate grassy weed species.

“Maintain a well-cut lawn around your home and install firebreaks that are free from slashed or dead material and don’t have any vegetation more than 50 millimetres high.

“Make sure you have plenty of water and the right equipment to put out a fire, if necessary.”

The fundamental principle established by the Bushfires Management Act 2016 is that the responsibility for bushfire management rests with the landholder.

“Firebreaks help save lives and limit the spread of wildfires,” Ms Bremner said.

“We also urge the public to report illegal or suspicious activity in their community to police on 131 444 or anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”

Source: Bushfires NT