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Not all fires are equal. How you should respond depends on where your property is and the environment around it.

Bushfires behave differently to grassfires. It is important to understand both. When a grassfire starts in an urban or built up area, you need to react differently than if you are in a rural and regional area.

This is a general guide to help you identify your risk of fire based on your location. If you are not sure about fire risk for your property, you can speak to your local fire brigade.

To find your local fire station, you can visit the: 

What is your fire risk?

  • Leave Early - How well do you know fire?

    If you live in or close to dense bushlands areas, you could be at risk of bushfires. Did you know that the flames of a bushfire can reach temperatures of up to 1100°C?

    These areas are generally in regional Victoria but can also be found close to urban settings such as the Dandenong Ranges.

    If you find it hard to see through the forested areas around your property, you are at the most extreme fire risk.

    Tip: A forested area is an area dominated by closely growing trees or bushland, with mature trees more than 2m in height. 

    On high fire risk days, the safest option for you is to leave early. When to leave should be based on your own circumstances, including:

    • the current Fire Danger Rating in your district
    • if there is an active fire in your area
    • who is with you and needs to be transported
    • where you plan to go and the route you will need to take

    You can learn more on the Plan and prepare for fire page.

    Plan to go to areas that are built up and away from dense bushlands such as cities and towns.

    Leaving early is always the safest option.

  • Leave Early - How well do you know fire? 15 sec

    If you live in or close to open paddocks or grasslands you could be at risk of rural grassfires.

    If the grass in the areas around your house is higher than 10cm, you are at a higher fire of risk. These grassed areas will have a high flame height and intensity.

    Tip: Grasslands refer to a large open area of country covered with grass. They could be wild or enclosed areas (such as paddocks used for farming or animals to graze).

    Rural grassfires can be just as dangerous as bushfires. Rural grassfires tend to spread faster than bushfires because grass is a finer fuel to burn. In open grasslands, the speed of a rural grassfire can increase to 25km/h, over double the speed in smaller areas.

    The safest option for you is to leave early on high risk Fire Danger Rated days. If you become aware of a fire in your area, leave if it is safe to do so.

    When to leave should be based on your own circumstances, including:

    • the current Fire Danger Rating in your district
    • if there is an active fire in your area
    • who is with you and needs to be transported
    • where you plan to go and the route you will need to take

    You can learn more on the Plan and prepare for fire page.

    Plan to go to areas that are built up and away from dense bush and grasslands such as cities or towns.

    Leaving early is always the safest option.

  • Urban Fringe Grassfire - How well do you know fire?

    If you live in an urban or a built-up suburb and your property is very close to grasslands, you could be at risk of urban grassfires.

    Tip: Urban grassfires can start in smaller grassed areas such parks or nature reserves.

    Grassfires in urban areas tend to spread quickly and let off a lot of smoke. These fires don’t tend to have intensity of bushfire or rural grassfires, so they haven't been known to move into built up areas.

    If your property is within 1 to 2 streets of grasslands and a fire starts:

    • walk 2 streets back
    • monitor conditions on the VicEmergency App

    Download the VicEmergency App from the  App Store or  Google Play for on the go information.

    Driving during a grassfire can be unsafe. The smoke from the fire may make it hard to see and your car may block the roads. If the roads are blocked by cars (by either traffic jams or road accidents), it will take emergency services longer to reach the fire and bring it under control.

    Before you leave, make sure you turn off the air conditioning and close all doors and blinds. This helps to reduce the risk that embers can get into your house and start a new fire.

  • Urban Fringe Grassfire - How well do you know fire?

    If you live an urban area or suburb and your property is 2 or 3 streets back from grasslands, you could be at risk of urban grassfires.

    Tip: The main difference between people who live on properties that back onto grasslands and those living 2 or more streets away is what you should do when a fire starts.

    Unlike the people who live in properties that back onto grasslands, you should stay put inside your house. Grassfires in urban settings are not known to move into built up areas.

    It is best to:

    • turn off your air conditioning and close all doors and blinds to reduce the risk of embers getting into your house and starting new fires
    • monitor conditions on the VicEmergency App

    Download the VicEmergency App from the  App Store or  Google Play for on the go information.

    Driving during a grassfire can be unsafe. The smoke from the fire may make it hard to see and your car may block the roads. If the roads are blocked by cars (by either traffic jams or road accidents), it will take emergency services longer to reach the fire and bring it under control.

  • Traveller - How well do you know fire?

    If you live in the middle of a town/city away from bush and grasslands you are likely not to be at direct risk of a fire.

    But it is important to remember that if you work or plan to travel in or around grassy or dense bush areas in Victoria, you still need to prepare for fires.

    Think about where you are planning to travel and make sure you:

    • have a plan about what to do if fire happens
    • have an emergency kit with you
    • check the Fire Danger Rating daily

    Often when people are planning a camping trip, they know they have to think about fire risk. But if you are travelling for any reason, you need to be aware of the fire risk in the area. So whether you are heading for the coast, going on a hike, touring a region’s wineries or even visiting relatives in the bush, make sure you are ready. 

    Tip: Check fire danger ratings daily for the area in which you are traveling. They are updated every day on the VicEmergency website 

    If the rating is Extreme or Code Red, have a back-up plan for that day. Move to built up areas away from dense bush and grasslands.

    Here are the best ways to stay informed about fire while travelling around Victoria:

    Social media is also a great way to stay across bushfire and grassfire information in Victoria. You can follow:

Reviewed 20 July 2021

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