MFMP - Fire management risk strategies 2019-2021

Section 5 of the Municipal Fire Management Plan.

Amendment summary

Version number Amendment date Change/reason for change
01 May 2019 Date altered from 2017 to 2018 5.1.1 VFRR-B
Permit to burn 5.4 some minor wording added to reflect only issue after CFA approval
Minor word changes 5.10 to reflect no assessment tool developed
Removed entire section 5.11.3
Removed entire section 5.11.6
Removed second paragraph 5.15 BPA
Removed reference to attachment 11 in 5.15

5.1 Risk assessment methodologies

To determine the structural and chemical fire risk within the municipality, incident data and major assets were used to inform identification of key risks. Each of these processes is described in greater detail below.

Management of risk is an integral part of good business practices and quality management.  Understanding risk and learning how to manage it effectively enables municipalities, fire services, government agencies and the broader community to reduce hazards and risks by identifying and analysing issues which could threaten communities and providing a systematic way to make informed decisions to mitigate or reduce those threats to an acceptable level.

Ongoing monitoring and review is essential to ensure that the City of Greater Geelong Municipal Fire Management Plan remains relevant and up to date with specific attention to:

  • Changes to community demographics and level of risk,
  • Following a major fire event.

These and other factors may affect the likelihood and consequences of an outcome, as they can affect the suitability or cost of the treatment options. It is therefore necessary to repeat the risk management cycle on a regular basis by conducting an annual review. Because the risk from bushfire is prominent within the country area of Victoria, the annual review will occur prior to each fire season. The review process shall also ensure new strategies, programs and plans developed by the State and Regional Fire Management Committees are considered and incorporated where appropriate and meets Council and community expectations.

5.1.1 Victorian Fire Risk Register - Bushfire (VFRR-B)

The VFRR-B is a Victorian version of a mapping application developed by the NSW Rural Fire Service to assist in the bushfire risk management planning process. The VFRR-B in its current format does not address the fire risk in the built environment.  It is a systematic process involving experts from a range of key stakeholders identifying assets within the municipal footprint at risk from bushfire, assessing their level of risk and assigning a range of treatments to mitigate the risk. Treatments may include activities such as fuel reduction, community education programs and safety audits.

Using the categories of Human Settlement, Economic, Environmental and Cultural Heritage, assets were identified and their level of risk assessed based upon consideration of a range of characteristics including proximity to flammable vegetation, vegetation type, slope and frequency of fires.

The VFRR-B has enabled the City of Greater Geelong MFMPC to list risk reduction treatments and link these treatments to assets. The primary output of the VFRR-B is a Municipal Bushfire Risk Register table with maps showing assets and satellite imagery, as well as a list of treatments assigned to each asset. The VFRR-B is reviewed annually by a subcommittee of the MFMPC and was last reviewed in March 2018.

The objective of the VFRR-B is to provide fire planners with evidence based data and information to better inform bushfire management planning in achieving:

  • tenure blind, integrated fire management planning (IFMP) across the landscape
  • a reduction in the number of human induced bushfire ignitions that cause damage to life, property and the environment
  • effective fuel management to reduce the rate of spread and intensity of bushfires while minimising environmental/ecological impacts
  • a reduction in community vulnerability to bushfires by improving preparedness
  • effective containment of fires with the potential to cause damage to life, property or the environment.

VFRR-B identifies the following asset classes:

Asset Class Asset Subclass
Human Settlement Residential
Special Fire Class
Economic Agriculture
Tourist & Recreational
Commercial Forests
Drinking Water Catchments
Environmental Locally Important
Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Significance
Non Indigenous

5.1.2 Methodology

The VFRR-B process follows the Risk Management Methodology AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009:

  • Risk Management Process
  • Identify Risk
  • Analyse Risks
  • Evaluate Risk
  • Risk Treatment
  • Monitor and Review

Included in this plan is a matrix of the priority risks in the municipality; physical, geographical and systems risk; treatment and actions to achieve fire management strategy (including timelines and areas of responsibility).

5.2 Municipal risk treatments

At the higher level generic risk treatments exist such as the Victorian Planning Scheme, Building Regulations and the Building Code of Australia (BCA). In addition to these, every fire and land agency has had in place for many years’ various fire management strategies to treat both the bushfire and built environment risks which include but are not limited to:

  • Hazard Reduction, for example: DELWP/PV planned burn program, multi-agency slashing programs
  • Ignition Management, for example: (Electric Line Clearance) Regulations 2015
  • Community Education, for example: CFA Community Fire Guard, Living with Fire
  • Preparedness, for example: community Local Incident Management Plans, multi-agency Fire Management Plans
  • Property planning, for example: Private property inspections, planning and building legislation
  • Fire Season Preparedness Actions

Recommendations from the Victorian Bushfire Commission into the Black Saturday Fires 2009 have re-focused on a number of existing strategies with enhanced activities such as:

  • Community Information Guides (formally Township Protection Plans)
  • Places of Last Resort (Neighbourhood Safer Places)
  • Fire Refuges
  • Private Fire Bunkers

Please note that the City does not have any NSP’s /Places of Last Resort, Fire Refuges or Assembly Areas.

Fuel reduction works

The City of Greater Geelong is broken up into three distinct zones, the north zone, south zone and east zone.

Work zone map

Each year staff and contractors are engaged to cut along the rural roadsides where the City is the road manager. Maps of which roads are presently maintained in each zone annually are supplied in Attachment 7 (7.1-7.3) of the plan. The order in which the roadsides are cleared as well as which roads may get a second cut will depend on the ability of vehicles to get onto the roadsides together with seasonal variability’s such as curing rates, heading seeding of native grasses prior to cutting and regrowth.

Council’s Environment and Natural Resources Unit also carries out a large amount of weed reduction works along environmentally important roadsides as well as in the council maintained reserves.

There is a work plan of planned burns for some roadsides and also some reserves. A copy of this plan is supplied as Attachment 12 of this plan. The removal of weed species from our roadsides and the regeneration of native grasses can reduce quite dramatically the fuel load on the roadsides and the risk that presents in the passage of grass fire.

5.4 Local Laws and Permit to Burn

In the City of Greater Geelong, open air burning outside the Fire Danger Period is only permitted once a permit has been obtained. Applications for a permit to burn can be downloaded from the City’s website at: Within residential areas open air burning or fires in incinerators are prohibited.

During the declared Fire Danger Period open air burning is prohibited without a written permit from the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer. Limited permits may be obtained by individuals to conduct a fuel reduction or stubble burn within the municipality but only after CFA informs council to do so. These permits are issued by Council under the authority of The CFA Act. These permits contain stringent conditions that must be complied with.

The City of Greater Geelong in its new ‘Neighbourhood Amenity Local Law 2014 has clause 14 (2) which now makes it a requirement for owners of vacant land within a built up area to maintain their property to a maximum height of 150mm (6 inches) between the months of April to October each year. This clause was created to ensure owners kept the fuel loads down on vacant land all year round reducing the fuel levels leading into the declared Fire Danger Period each year.

5.5 Inspection of private properties and issue of notices

The City of Greater Geelong conducts fire hazard inspections each year across the entire municipality. Fire prevention notices will be issued on all properties considered to be a fire risk in both the rural and residential areas. A breakdown of fire prevention notices issued during the last fire season is supplied in Attachment 10.

The City of Greater Geelong has for a period of time understood that the greatest number of fires occur in the residential/industrial areas of the city and has amended its work practices during the fire season/summer season to suit. The table (Attachment 10) clearly supports that the greatest risk of potential fire resides within the Urban precincts of the City of Greater Geelong. For further information, refer to the fire statistics provided later in the plan.

5.6 Fire danger rating signs

The Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission requested the effectiveness of current signage be researched with the outcome being that the arch shape is more familiar and easier for people to understand (see picture below).

Fire danger rating sign

Note: A Total Fire ban can be declared when the Fire Danger Rating is located between High and Code Red.

The Fire Danger Index (FDI) is a numerical ranking of <12 to >100. This index is determined by the Bureau of Meteorology for each of the nine Fire Ban Districts that cover the State of Victoria.

The FDI is based on temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and vegetation dryness and developed for both forest and grass.

The Fire Danger Rating (FDR) is linked to the FDI . (refer below)

Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) Grass Fire Danger Rating Index (GFDI) Fire Danger Rating (FDR)
>100 >150 Code Red
75 to 99 100 to 149 Extreme
50 to 74 50 to 99 Severe
26 to 49 26 to 49 Very High
12 to 25 12 to 25 High
0 to 11 0 to 11 Low - Moderate

(In central district the highest FDI is used to create FDR for COGG). The daily adjustment of the signs during the FDP is the responsibility of the Country Fire Authority.

In addition to the above signs an electronic fire danger rating sign was placed on the Ring Road and another placed on Freeway just prior to commencement of the ring road at the north entrance to Geelong giving the municipality four LED changeable fire danger rating signs.

5.7 Fire plugs

Within the boundary of the City of Greater Geelong there are presently approximately 22,000 fire plugs located along the street network with the primary purpose of being available for access for firefighting measures.

When fire plugs are installed as part of the reticulated water infrastructure in new sub divisions the water authority also creates water access points for its own use. At present it appears that neither Council nor the Water Authority can say with any certainty which fire plugs are for firefighting purposes and which fire plugs are for the water authority use. The CFA will use any fire plug for firefighting purposes.

The Water Authority (Barwon Water) conducts inspections on 10 per cent (on average) of the fire plugs each year to ensure fire plugs are in good working order and able to be used for their intended purpose.

Historically CFA brigades would also inspect the fire plugs within their individual brigade areas however in 2005 the CFA Chief Officers Standing Order 2.01 relating to inspection of fire plugs was revoked and the Chief Officers Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 7.05 was introduced ensuring brigades have an understanding of the water resources in their area but does not order brigades to inspect hydrants. The SOP still maintains that brigades record and report any hydrant faults to the relevant authority.

Legal responsibility regarding fire plugs is somewhat unclear. In the Water Act section 165 where in clause 2 council must meet the costs of providing, installing, marking and maintaining all fire plugs that the council requires to be installed in its district. To this end a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been developed that assists the council and the water authority to work to an agreed process.

In its simplest form council will maintain the above ground infrastructure such as posts, cats eyes, fire plug caps etc. and the water authority will maintain the below ground fittings.

Some CFA brigades still do a degree of inspecting within their areas and fault sheets are forwarded to the MFPO for actioning. Fault sheets are then forwarded to either the relevant council works supervisor or the water authority depending on the fault type.

Fire plugs are vital in ensuring water is available instantly an appliance arrives at a fire incident and delays in fighting a fire due to non-working fire plugs or plugs unable to be detected can place both lives and property at risk.

Common problems encountered are the removal of fire plug marker posts and covering of fire plug by residents who do not want the fire plug in front of their home. In an attempt to address this issue Council is still working towards the establishment of an ‘Adopt a Fire Plug’ program to encourage residents with fire plugs on or near their nature strip to ensure the fire plug is easily located and clear of obstructions and if noticing a fault to contact Council.

Due to the size of this municipality and the sheer quantity of fire plugs this scheme will be an ongoing work and may take years to fully implement.

5.8 Static water supplies

Currently there are four static water tanks located in the Anakie area and one tank in Portarlington, of these Council are responsible for the two tanks located at 10 Manna Gum Place Anakie (enter from Lynch Road), and 285 Durdiwarrah Road Anakie (enter De Motts Road next to 360 De Motts). The CFA are responsible for the other two tanks which are located on the west side of Clarkes Road Anakie (Golden Plains) and at the cnr of Clarkes Rd and Durdiwarrah Road Anakie.

Council is responsible for the maintenance of the tank located in Coatsworth Road Portarlington and CFA is responsible for keeping the tank full.

There are hundreds of dams and catchments located throughout the municipality which are too numerous to list. These dams may be accessed by the fire agencies in a major bushfire event.

5.9 Water stand pipes

The City of Greater Geelong currently maintains nine water standpipes across the municipality in the suburbs of Anakie, Little River, Lara, Lovely Banks, Wandana Heights, Fyansford, Pt Lonsdale, Marcus Hill and St Leonards. These standpipes are used by residents who do not have access to reticulated water for human consumption and firefighting purposes.

5.10 Structural and chemical fire risk assessment

This Plan recognises that there is no Urban Risk Assessment Tool developed at this time but, once completed, will be implemented by the MFMPC to complete and incorporate a full Risk Register in respect of structural and chemical fires in later iterations of this Plan. In the interim EMV staff are developing a risk assessment process for chemical and structure fires using incident statistics, key asset identification, and other available site and incident statistical information.

Risk assessment will give consideration to likelihood factors, such as structural and chemical fire history (number and type) across the municipality and across the relevant industry, and the consequences, or potential consequences of those occurrences (death, injury, economic and property loss statistics).  Consideration will also be given to high risk premises and assets.  Examples of high risk premises may include (for life risk) nursing homes, aged care facilities and institutional care facilities, (and for property loss risk) commercial and industrial premises. In terms of chemical fires, consideration will be given to high risk premises such as chemical manufacturers, or high chemical use industries, chemical transport industries, fuel suppliers and any other industry identified following a comprehensive risk assessment process.

The MFMPC will continue to work with VFRR-B and Barwon South West Region on the development of risk assessment criteria and tools for structure and chemical fires.

5.11 Treatment of structural fires and chemical fires and incidents

5.11.1 Structural fire risk

Incident statistics show a likelihood for structural fires across the municipality, but with the strongest concentration in the major townships. Structural fires may involve a range of structures from a single residential structure through to a large industrial building. The impacts of structural fires can include death or injury, loss of property, or consequential economic loss associated with the aforementioned impacts.

It is recognised that the majority of structural fires occur within townships, however isolated single structures can also be affected by structural fire.

5.11.2 Structural fire risk treatments

Structural Fire Risk is treated in a number of ways to minimize their occurrence and severity. Treatment actions may include:

  • building control and regulation
  • public awareness and education
  • household fire planning
  • occupational health and safety regulation
  • dangerous goods and hazardous material regulation
  • response procedures of CFA, including resource and training provision, proportional and specific, to the structural risk environment

5.11.3 Chemical fire and incident risk

Incident statistics show a likelihood for fires and incidents involving chemicals across the municipality. Such incidents may involve a range of matters from a minor leak or spill (example – car leaking petrol) to a major leak and/or fire involving chemicals (examples include Coode Island fire, Tar leak at Portland Harbour, Longford Gas Plant fire).  The impacts of chemical fires and incidents can include death or injury, loss or damage of property and environment, or consequential economic or environmental losses associated with the aforementioned impacts.

It is recognised that the majority of chemical fires and incidents occur within townships, however isolated incidents have been known to occur including tanker leaks and fires outside of built up areas. 

5.11.4 Chemical fires and incident risk treatments

Chemical Fires and Incidents Risk is treated in a number of ways to minimize their occurrence and severity. Treatment actions may include:

  • dangerous goods and hazardous material regulation
  • occupational health and safety regulation
  • environmental protection regulation
  • industry compliance codes, and codes of practice
  • building control and regulation
  • transport licensing and regulation
  • public and industry awareness and education
  • emergency management fire planning within industries
  • response procedures of CFA, including resource and training provision specific to the structural, chemical and Hazmat risk environments
  • SOP’s and Pre Incident Response Plans (PIPS) for high risk premises

5.12 Major hazard facilities

Major hazard facilities:

  • are industrial sites that store, handle or process specific hazardous materials in quantities above a threshold amount - examples of such facilities include oil refineries and gas-processing plants
  • must comply with strict legal requirements. The list of approved Major Hazard Facilities in Victoria is maintained by WorkSafe Victoria and is available at
  • in the City of Greater Geelong together with a list of significant properties are listed in Attachment two of this plan.
  • treatments are identified and managed at state level and are noted in this plan for information and completeness only.

5.13 Bushfire Management Overlay

The Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) applies to land within the municipality where the intensity of bushfire is significant and has been assessed as likely to pose a threat to life and property. The BMO is used to ensure that any development includes specified fire protection measures and does not significantly increase the threat to life and property from bushfire.

A BMO is shown on the planning scheme map as BMO or WMO with a number.

The purpose of the BMO is to:

  • implement the State Planning Policy Framework and the Local Planning Policy Framework, including the Municipal Strategic Statement and local planning policies
  • ensure that the development of land prioritises the protection of human life and strengthens community resilience to bushfire
  • identify areas where bushfire hazard warrants bushfire protection measures to be implemented
  • ensure development is only permitted where the risk to life and property from bushfire can be reduced to an acceptable level.

The BMO consists of a map which shows the areas affected by the BMO and written provisions which set out the types of development that require a planning permit, the information that must be submitted with a planning permit application and the decision guidelines that the council must consider when they assess a planning permit application.

All planning permit applications in the BMO will be referred to the relevant fire authority for review.

For further information on the BMO download the Victoria Planning Provisions and refer to Section 44.06 - Bushfire Management Overlay.

5.14 Bushfire Prone Area (BPA)

In 2010 the State Government declared over 90 per cent of the state of Victoria to now be classed as a Bushfire Prone Area (refer attachment 7.5 for a map of BPA).

The mapping of these areas do of course have major implications for anyone wishing to build in a BPA and depending on the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) certain impositions will occur so that new constructions meet the fire safety level required.

Building in bushfire areas requires careful planning, siting and design. Class 1, 2 or 3 and associated Class 10a buildings must be designed and constructed to reduce the risk of ignition from a bushfire while the fire front passes. The building requirements are set out in the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

As a result of the amendment all proposed Class 1, 2 or 3 buildings and associated Class 10a buildings throughout the state are subject to the site assessment provisions required by the Standard, though many sites will be assessed as BAL-LOW and will not be required to comply with additional construction requirements.

The Standard sets out construction requirements for a building determined according to the highest Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) of the site.

The BALs for which specific construction requirements are set in the Standard are:

  • BAL-12.5
  • BAL-19
  • BAL-29
  • BAL-40
  • BAL-FZ.

There are no additional construction requirements for an assessment of BAL-LOW.

The applicant must arrange an assessment of the site and provide the relevant Building Surveyor with his or her analysis of the BAL.

(Source: Building Commission 2011-42, Building Controls for Bushfire Safety – Interim)

5.15 Road vegetation clearance envelope

For maintenance works on roadsides that require the removal or modifying of vegetation, the City of Greater Geelong Operations and Parks Departments undertake such works under an agreed criteria. A bi –annual planning permit allows for the removal of, or the modifying of any vegetation within the agreed road envelope, without the need to apply for site specific planning permits.

This commonsense approach is based on the clear understanding that only vegetation within the agreed envelope may be removed or modified, however, correct arboriculture practices do apply. All vegetation outside the envelope requiring removal and/or modification will trigger the need for an additional permit.

5.16 Cross boundary arrangements

It is acknowledged that the City of Greater Geelong and stakeholder agencies have existing planning relationships across the following boundaries:

  • Borough of Queenscliffe
  • Golden Plains Shire
  • Moorabool Shire
  • Wyndham City Council
  • Surf Coast Shire

5.17 Monitor and review

Ongoing monitoring and review is essential to ensure that the City of Greater Geelong Municipal Fire Management Plan remains relevant and up to date with specific attention to:

  • Changes to community demographics and level of risk,
  • VFRR-B outcomes,
  • Alterations to the Emergency Management Manual Victoria,
  • Directions from the Emergency Management Commissioner,
  • Alterations to the current status re NSP/Places of Last Resort
  • Changes to organisational responsibilities or legislation as a consequence of the Royal Commission,
  • Following a major fire event, and
  • More adequately reflecting the real fire risk (for example: structural/chemical)

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Page last updated: Thursday, 28 May 2020