DIY burn offs not the answer – Council strengthening compliance

While extremely dry weather conditions have increased risk of fire across the city, Redland City Council is concerned residents are carrying out their own private burn-offs, putting themselves and the rest of the community at risk.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said while Council encourages all residents to ensure their properties are fire safe, ‘DIY burn-offs’ are prohibited under Local Law 3 for lots of less than 6,000 square metres.

“In extreme conditions a single stray spark or ember can still start a fire no matter how much preparation is in place, and even the spark from machinery or hot metal can set off a fire.

“Council’s own fire mitigation and management burns are only carried out under carefully controlled conditions and only in moderate seasonal conditions in the cooler months of the year.

“The Fire Review Report received by Council last year, identified both Council and residents having responsibility for clearing overgrown allotments by mowing and slashing undergrowth, and removing junk and flammable rubbish from their properties.

“Most residents deserve a pat on the back for their fantastic response to Council’s call for a clean-up in preparation for fire season, but there’s more to do.

Mark Edwards, Divisional Councillor for Redland Bay and the Southern Moreton Bay and Islands, said Council has provided assistance to island residents by providing talks and written material on bushfire preparedness which describe how to clear their properties, and advising of the trial of extended opening hours of waste transfer stations on Russell and Macleay Islands to seven days a week until 31 January 2018.

“In addition, Redlands eligible residents aged 60 years or older and residents with a disability can gain extra assistance through Council’s Redland Home Assist Secure service that provides support for gutter cleaning, roof and down pipe repair, backyard tidy-up, tree and shrub trimming smoke alarms and other home maintenance services,” Cr Edwards said.

Council has also responded to the Fire Review Report recommendations through actions such as a program of physical slashing, mowing and clearing of undergrowth and fire access trails on public property; completing a program of 14 prescribed burns across the city, including the islands; establishing water tankers on standby across SMBI, NSI and the mainland on days where Wildfire Level 3 alert is declared; identifying 118 new Fire Access Trails, numerous Fuel Free Zones and creation of 29 Fuel Reduction Zones to be constructed on SMBI.

The Fire Review Report also recommended that Council implement a proactive approach to local law enforcement.  In response to this, officers have commenced a systematic review of SMBI properties and will be carrying out compliance action in relation to matters such as unapproved structures (including shipping containers), unsightly accumulation of materials or unlawfully occupying land. Overgrown land is also a focus.

Enforcement action will depend on the degree of non-compliance and threat to health and safety, but can result in fines. To avoid such action, residents and landowners are encouraged to act now to remove illegal structures from their properties or alternatively have them approved if appropriate.

Now is also the time to remove objects and materials which are not properly stored, such as broken down vehicles and scrap materials, as these items increase fire risks on a property.

If residents are in doubt about vegetation or fire management on their properties they can call Council on 3829 8999. To contact the Redland Home Assist Secure team phone (07) 3383 3030.