Be safe in forests with fire these summer holidays

Be safe: Check restrictions frequently and follow the rules to ensure everyone can have a good time during summer holidays. Photo by Cath Grey

With thousands of Victorians taking the opportunity to spend the long weekend with friends and family, authorities are urging everyone to play it safe around campfires, barbecues and recreational fires.

Campfires have already caused 270 bushfires on public land this fire season, which is over half of fires responded to by state forest fire management crews.

At least 91 of these unattended campfires sparked bushfires over the Christmas and New Year period.

Forest Fire Management Victoria chief fire officer Chris Hardman said just one spark can have devastating impacts and get out of control.

“Never leave a campfire unattended, never light one on a total fire ban day and always make sure you have enough water to fully extinguish a campfire before you leave,” he said.

Check weather conditions and warnings, including total fire bans, on the VicEmergency app or website and make sure there’s enough water to put out the fire when it can’t be watched.

The website allows you to check which activities are allowed, including campfires and barbecues, by entering an address.

Conservation Regulator-authorised officers have also found more than 180 unattended campfires at state forest campsites since November with 29 infringements and 54 warnings issued.

On-the-spot fines of $545 can be given for campfire rule breaches, with fines of up to $43,617 and two years jail for lighting a fire during a total fire ban.

Chief conservation regulator Kate Gavens said they want people to have a good time in state forests, but ensure they are safe by knowing what they can and can’t do.

“It just takes one ember to cause a destructive bushfire, and this is why there are significant fines for those who leave campfires unattended,” she said.

In state forests fires can be lit in purpose-built fireplaces or in trenches at least 30cm deep, with logs measuring under one metre and must be put out with water and not soil.

Across the state barbecues, fires for warmth and cooking fires don’t need a permit but must be lit in properly constructed fireplaces.

CFA chief officer Jason Heffernan said with fire restrictions in place across the state, it’s important for Victorians to know the rules for where they live and travel during holidays.

“While CFA and our partner agencies Fire Rescue Victoria and Forest Fire Management Victoria are prepared to protect Victorian communities this fire season, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires,” he said.

“Expect any escaped or uncontrolled fire you start to be investigated by CFA and Victoria Police.”

Unattended campfires should be reported to 136 186 or call 000 in an emergency.

For details, see the Can I or Can’t I? guide to activities and restrictions on, or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 or visit the Fire Permits Victoria website at

For more information on rules in state forests including fires and using vehicles, visit