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Managing bushfire and grassfire risks in early childhood services

Information for all NQF services on how to manage bushfire and grassfire risks.


In addition to meeting emergency management requirements, all approved providers must also plan for bushfires and grassfires.

All NQF services must assess all possible risks to their service and include these in their policies and procedures.

Services located in areas at risk of bushfires or grassfires must include details of how they will manage these issues in their policies and procedures. They must also add them to their Emergency Management Plan (EMP).

The way that centre-based services and family day care (FDC) services must manage their risks is different under the NQF.

Centre-based services

Centre-based services located in high-risk of bushfires are placed on the Bushfire-at-risk register (BARR)External Link by the department.

Each service on the register is assessed for its bushfire and grassfire risk using a methodology developed in partnership with the CSIRO, and reviewed each year.

Services listed as Category 4External Link (previously referred to as grassfire) are at some risk of bushfire or grassfire.

Services on the BARR no longer need to submit their EMP to the department.


Long day care and Out of School Hours services on the BARR or Category 4

Approved providers of long day care (LDC) or Out of School Hours (OSHC) services listed on the BARR or Category 4 must ensure that:

The EMP must:

  • relate to the service’s location and operating context
  • be kept up to date
  • reviewed at least once per calendar year
  • available to the Regulatory Authority/QARD on request.

The EMP must include:

  • a list of the service’s emergency contacts
  • procedures for:
    • monitoring and managing bushfire and grassfire risks and events
    • identifying and managing events that may cause planned, unplanned or pre-emptive closure of the service
    • notifying families of children enrolled at the service of any closure
    • reviewing and updating the EMP.

Services co-located on high bushfire risk school sites

Schools on the BARR at the very highest risk of bushfire, will relocate or close on elevated FDR days linked to their fire risk category. No one is permitted on the site.

If your service is co-located with one of these schools, make sure you:

For information about emergency management planning for your service, contact the Security and Emergency Management Division at

Family day care services

Family day care (FDC) services have different responsibilities to centre-based services when managing bushfire risks as educators often work alone with limited support.

They are not listed on the department’s Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR).

Providers must ensure they:

  • identify the FDC educators operating from a residence or venue that may be at risk from bushfire
  • maintain a record of all educators at risk from bushfire
  • make sure these FDC service prepare an emergency management plan (EMP) to manage bushfire related risks and emergencies related to each residence or venue
  • make sure the identified FDC educators or venues in high bushfire risk close on days that are forecast as Catastrophic for their Fire DistrictExternal Link
  • inform families when FDC residences or venues cannot provide education and care due to a Catastrophic rated day, or decision to close pre-emptively due to high temperatures.

Providers can use the Bushfire At-Risk RegisterExternal Link to help in identifying which residences or venues are considered to be at high risk of bushfire.

So they can communicate with emergency services and parents, approved providers must also make sure that:

  • each service or each FDC educator has access to an operating telephone (landline or mobile) or
  • other means of communication.

These obligations are conditions imposed on your service approval. If an approved provider fails to comply with these requirements it may lead to enforcement action.

Fire danger ratings

From 1 September 2022, Victoria moved to a new fire danger rating system that operates across Australia. It uses 4 different levels:

  • moderate
  • high
  • extreme
  • catastrophic.

Learn more about the new Australian Fire Danger Rating SystemExternal Link .

Fire danger ratings (FDRs) are issued when there is a fire risk. They are:

The FDRs give information about how dangerous a fire would be if started in those conditions:


Warnings are issued:

  • when an actual emergency is likely to affect parts of the community, and
  • provide information on what is happening, and
  • the best advice on what actions should be taken.

The warning level is based on the:

  • severity (seriousness)
  • conditions
  • the likelihood that the emergency could impact on the community.

Warning levels can change at any time.

Find out more about Understanding warningsExternal Link and Current warnings and incidents - VicEmergencyExternal Link .

Monitoring conditions

We recommend that all educators, volunteers, services and approved providers download the VicEmergency appExternal Link and set up a ‘watch zone’ for your service’s location.

It will help you stay aware about:

  • local incidents and emergencies that may impact your service and
  • fire danger forecasts and warnings for events in the landscape.

To download the app:

Services should follow their emergency and evacuation policy and procedures to:

  • reduce the risks
  • maintain children’s safety and wellbeing.

You can also check the CFA Fire Bans and Fire Danger ratingsExternal Link in your area.

Pre-emptive closing

Services should identify times when they may choose to pre-emptively close the service, how they will communicate with families, and put this in their emergency policy.

Pre-emptive means that the service chooses to close when there is:

  • a forecast for very hot weather
  • a catastrophic fire warning
  • forecasted extreme weather events
  • other reasons specific to your service.

Catastrophic fire rating days

FDC providers and educators must check the fire danger ratings each dayExternal Link during the summer season using either:

On days that are declared as ‘Catastrophic’ in the relevant Fire District, FDC educators located in high bushfire risk areas must:

  • not operate, and
  • tell parents that the service will be closed.

Contact details

Make sure you keep your contact details up to date at all times, and especially before the bushfire season.

Update these details for each service and FDC educator through the NQA ITS portalExternal Link :

  • office hours details
  • after hours contact details and
  • emergency contact details so the department can contact you in the case of a bushfire.


For information about emergency management planning for your service, contact the Security and Emergency Management Division at

Office hours contacts

Quality Assessment and Regulation Division (QARD)

QARD is the regulatory authority for all early childhood services in Victoria.

For enquiries contact:

Find your QARD regional office contact details.

Department region emergency management contacts

Find your CFA fire regionExternal Link .

Reviewed 25 September 2023


Contact us

Quality Assessment and Regulation Division (QARD)

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