No excuse to leave campfires burning as weather heats up across Victoria
Wednesday 20 December, 2023
Don’t let your campfire become a bushfire is the message for holidaymakers heading into Victoria’s parks this summer.
It’s all-hands-on-deck for Parks Victoria, the Conservation Regulator and Forest Fire Management Victoria to ensure parks and forests stay open, clean and safe as this bushfire season coincides with the holiday season – the busiest period for people seeking adventure in the great outdoors.
With around 10 per cent of bushfires caused by campfire negligence each year, Authorised Officers have increased patrols across Victoria’s parks, forests and reserves to ensure campers are doing the right thing and to educate visitors on campfire safety.
Despite recent wet weather across Victoria, campfires can still easily turn into bushfires when left unattended or not put out properly. Many people incorrectly attempt to extinguish campfires with soil, or without enough water to extinguish them completely. Fires that have not been properly extinguished can smoulder under soil for several days and reignite with the right conditions.
Parks Victoria is already expecting more than 85,000 campers following 34,054 bookings made at campsites across Victoria this season. With this number set to grow as we bring in the New Year, it's crucial visitors understand campfire safety is their responsibility.
- Before you light a fire, check fire restrictions. Can you have a campfire? Is it a day of Total Fire Ban? Download the VicEmergency app to stay informed.
- Use a purpose-built fireplace if available, otherwise dig a trench at least 30cm deep.
- Always follow the designated rules of your campsite. In national parks, fires can only be lit in purpose-built fireplaces unless marked otherwise.
- The campfire must not exceed one square metre, and three metres above and around your fire must be clear of flammable material.
- Branches and logs on your campfire must be no longer than one metre.
- Never leave a campfire unattended – an adult must always stay within a 50-metre line of sight.
- Campfires must be extinguished with at least 10 litres or several buckets of water every time you leave the site, even for a short while.
- If the remains of the campfire, including coals, are cool to touch, it is safe to leave.
- All rubbish must be taken home with you, not burned.
People who breach campfire regulations on public land face on-the-spot fines of $577 or a maximum penalty of $19,231 if the matter is prosecuted in court. The maximum penalty for lighting or maintaining a fire during a Total Fire Ban is $46,154 and/or two years in jail. Report unattended campfires to Parks Victoria on 13 19 63 or the Conservation Regulator on 136 186, or call 000 to report a bushfire.
Visitors can brush up on their camping and campfire skills through Parks Victoria’s step-by-step online guides and video series: www.parks.vic.gov.au/where-to-stay/camping-for-beginners
Quotes attributable to Chris Mercier, Manager Enforcement Operations, Parks Victoria:
“We want people to explore and enjoy Victoria’s great outdoors, but unsafe campfires can have devastating consequences. Don’t be that person that leaves a campfire unattended, placing people and parks at risk.”
Quotes attributable to Kate Gavens, Chief Conservation Regulator:
“Campers can make a huge difference in protecting our native bushland, wildlife and visitors by being campfire safe given campfires are the biggest cause of avoidable bushfires in Victoria. Make sure you add campfire rules to your holiday preparation list and check them twice before setting up camp.”
Quotes attributable to Chris Hardman, Chief Fire Officer, Forest Fire Management Victoria:
“Take extra care with campfires and know and follow the rules at all times. Please never leave a campfire unattended and always put a campfire out with water. If the ashes are cool to touch – it's safe to leave.”
“It can only take one stray ember to cause a destructive fire. Unattended campfires are the cause of more than 10 per cent of all bushfires in Victoria.”