Questions and Responses
A study by the MFB says people living in some metro areas should have a fire plan like people in the bush. Monash had several areas pop up, they are: Clayton South (The Grange Heathland), Glen Waverley (Shepherds Bush), Mt Waverley (Valley and Fairway reserves) and Wheelers (Jells Park).
Does the council have a bushfire/grass fire plan/strategy, and if so, when does it kick in?
Council has a fire management safety plan for our native bushland reserves across the municipality. The City of Monash has around 38 hectares of native bushland reserves in Damper Creek, Scotchmans Creek, Valley Reserve and Gardiners Creek. This strategy is in place year-round but the higher risk months are typically November through to March. We have an annual fire hazard program targeted at owners of vacant land that starts in September. Fire risk clearance works in our bushland and reserves start in September and continue until the fire season is finished.
Is the council monitoring the above mentioned areas, and other areas that may be at risk of fire?
A number of properties in Monash are included in the Bushfire Prone Areas, which are determined by the Planning Minister. These properties are alongside the Dandenong Creek Valley from Glen Waverley in the north, through Wheelers Hill to Mulgrave in the south. Most of these areas are managed by Parks Victoria or Council. We have fire action response plans in place for all locations and these are done in consultation with the MFB and CFA. The plans provide specific details for access points, hydrant locations, staging areas etc. There are similar plans for other areas not declared by the Minister, which are also important, including along Scotchmans Creek beside the Monash Freeway.
There are also declared Bushfire Prone Areas in Mount Waverley adjacent to the Valley Reserve, which is owned and managed by Council. There is a specific response plan prepared by the MFB for Valley Reserve and Council has a management plan to reduce fire risk.
How will the council act to ensure households living close to those areas maintain their properties?
Unmanaged vacant land and properties can present a fire hazard and Council runs a yearly fire hazard program where owners of vacant land are sent a notice advising them of their responsibility to make sure the land is maintained to reduce the risk of fire. Council Officers will monitor these properties during the summer season.
The notices were sent in September and an inspection program has started to ensure grass and any other fuel sources are either removed or reduced. In the event a property owner fails to manage a hazard, Council will work with them to achieve compliance. However if our efforts are unsuccessful Council will call in a contractor to do the work and recoup the costs from the landowner. A fine of $500 will also follow.
Additionally, a similar process is applied where Council officers respond to a complaint or there’s a property that’s not previously been identified.
Can the council fine anyone who does not look after their property?
Yes. As above. If anyone has concerns about fire hazards in the municipality they can contact our Community Amenity team on 9518 3555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In an emergency or to report suspicious behaviour people should contact 000.
Given the (alleged) arson event in Jells Park in October, will the council have officers patrolling bush areas/parks during the fire season?
Jells Park is managed by Parks Victoria who have staff on site. We have Council officers located at a number of our reserves and they frequently monitor our reserves and bushland across Monash, in particular on Total Fire Ban days.
Issued: 15 November 2019
To: Monash Leader
Quoting: Mayor, Councillor Stuart James