1000 Steps to be closed on Total Fire Ban days

Monday 18 November, 2019

To help ensure the safety of visitors and emergency services, this summer the Thousand Steps and the Dandenong Ranges National Park and Gardens properties will be closed to the public on Total Fire Ban days.

This closure trigger has been implemented due to the high visitation at the park, its proximity to densely populated areas and the fact there is one way in and one way out, with limited access for emergency vehicles.

Each day during the fire danger period, the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts the expected Fire Danger Index for each district considering a range of factors including temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, dryness of vegetation and soil.

A Total Fire Ban is declared by district - there are nine Total Fire Ban districts across Victoria but a Total Fire Ban can also be declared for the whole state. It sets legal restrictions on what activities can or cannot occur for that day and aims to reduce the activities that may start a fire. Fire Danger Ratings predict fire behaviour should a fire start, and how hard it would be to put out. 

Visitors and the nearby community to Dandenong Ranges National Park should not expect to receive warnings or advice directly from Parks Victoria in an emergency or when the park needs to be closed.

Bushfire preparedness and safety is the responsibility of all Victorians so please take the below steps to ensure you are prepared, informed and safe within parks.

  1. Download the Vic Emergency phone app to ensure you receive all emergency warnings and advice for a range of hazards on your smartphone. You can create up to 20 watch zones with push notifications tailored to your specific work areas and needs.
  2. Visit the Emergency Management Victoria site for live fire warnings, Fire Danger Ratings and incidents, and follow their social media channels.
  3. Before visiting parks or planning a trip check weather forecasts at bom.gov.au and for up to date CFA Total Fire Bans and Ratings - https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/total-fire-bans-and-ratings
  4. Do not visit parks or forests when fire danger ratings are Code Red, Severe or Extreme. Some areas (within a park or the whole park) in the closed on these day/s. Be prepared to leave parks early or reschedule plans. Being in a park during hot and windy weather is a risk to visitors and emergency services. Check here for fire affected parks - https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/get-into-nature/safety-in-nature/fire-affected-parks
  5. Familiarise yourself with the CFA website regarding what you can and can’t do on days declared Total Fire Ban.
  6. Campfires can easily escape and start a bushfire putting park visitors, neighbouring communities, wildlife and the environment at risk. Check ahead to see if campfires are permitted and if any restrictions apply.  No campfires must be alight on a day of Total Fire Ban. If in doubt, don’t light a campfire. Never leave campfires unattended and ensure they are completely extinguished with water, not soil, before you leave. For tips on campfire safety: https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/permits-and-regulations/fire-restrictions-and-regulations, or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vom-vJxZrZ8

Quotes, attributed to David Nugent, Director Fire and Emergency, Parks Victoria

“During summer, weather and conditions can change dramatically with parks affected by fires, flooding or high winds. Visitor safety is one of Parks Victoria’s highest priorities and we may need to quickly close certain parks to protect the public and our staff.”

“Thousand Steps is a popular destination for visitors and locals and this park closure trigger has been put in place to reduce the risk to life, property and the environment.”

“Parks Victoria employees work as part of Forest Fire Management Victoria alongside the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, VicForests and Melbourne Water to reduce the risk and impact of bushfires on Victoria's parks, forests and other public land.”

ENDS

For more information please contact:

Roxy Sinclair, Manager Corporate Communications, Parks Victoria

About Parks Victoria

Parks Victoria is a statutory authority of the Victorian Government acting in accordance with the Parks Victoria Act 2018. Parks Victoria recognises the value and importance of working in partnership with Traditional Owners to manage parks and reserves in a culturally sensitive and ecologically appropriate way.  

Parks Victoria is responsible for managing a diverse estate of more than 4 million hectares including 3,000 land and marine parks and reserves making up 18 per cent of Victoria’s landmass, 75 per cent of Victoria’s wetlands and 70 per cent of Victoria’s coastline. Victoria’s parks are home to more than 4,300 native plants and around 1,000 native animal species.

Parks Victoria’s estate attracts more than 100 million visits every year and we are committed to providing accessible, enjoyable, diverse programs and destinations while protecting and enhancing environmental and cultural values. It is our primary responsibility to ensure parks are healthy and resilient for current and future generations. For more detail on our strategy and direction, please read our Corporate Plan 2018-21 and Business Plan 2018-19.

We work in partnership with other government and non-government organisations and community groups, catchment management authorities, private land owners, friends groups, volunteers, licensed tour operators, lessees, research institutes and the broader community.

Research suggests spending time in nature improves concentration, learning, problem solving, creativity and has physical and mental health benefits. Parks Victoria developed and named this approach Healthy Parks Healthy People which recognises the health of nature and the community is interlinked.

Further information about our management responsibilities and activities can be found in our Annual Report.


Media enquiries

Roxy Sinclair

(03) 8427 3189 Mobile: 0439 536 930

roxy.sinclair@parks.vic.gov.au

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