Fire Safety for Campers
For many adventurous Australians, summer is an excellent time to explore new areas and relax in favourite destinations. However, with the beautiful weather comes increased fire risk, so it’s important to know the facts. We spoke to Victoria’s County Fire Authority (CFA) about the do’s and don’t’s of outdoor fire safety.
Controlling your fire
When camping, there’s nothing more relaxing than a campfire. Toasting marshmallows, staying warm at night and watching the flames are camping essentials. With this treat comes responsibilities. The CFA warns that unattended campfires and campfires that haven’t been properly extinguished can quickly turn into bushfires. The CFA urges campers to extinguish their fires using water, not soil. This is more effective at putting out the fire permanently and it also means campers who walk on the soil after a fire are not at risk of burnt feet.
Once you have extinguished your fire, ensure that the coals are cool. Warm coals can re-ignite at a later stage and create an uncontrolled fire, particularly in bushy areas. If the ashes are cool to touch, campers are free to leave the spot without further action.
Total fire bans
Total fire bans are imposed when the weather conditions are likely to make fires ignite easily and be difficult to control. The rules for total fire bans are often misunderstood, with growing confusion over the use of portable gas barbecues when camping.
The CFA advises that gas barbecues can be used in the following conditions:
The barbecue is gas or electric and is a permanently fixed structure built of stone, metal, concrete, or another non-flammable material designed exclusively for meal preparation
The barbecue is placed in a stable position when alight
A hose is connected to a water supply nearby, or there is a container with at least 10 litres of water ready for immediate use
An adult is present at all times
The barbecue is completely extinguished by the adult before the location is left
Every home should have a fire plan. This is also an essential part of camping safety. Rural camping puts you at a greater risk of fire, so it is important to plan ahead. The CFA advises leaving early if fire is a risk. This means leaving even before a fire has started – don’t wait for smoke or flames.
The CFA is always searching for volunteers. Fire safety is a shared responsibility between emergency services and the community. Currently, the CFA has 54,000 members working in more than 1200 brigades across the state. Volunteers are trained in the areas of fire-fighting, emergency medical response, marketing, road rescues and community education. Visit the website for more information on volunteering with your local brigade.
Camping is a wonderful way to see the country and get back to nature, but it’s essential to remember that nature can be harsh. Planning and abiding by local restrictions is a vital part of the camping experience. Happy camping!