As the weather heats up, Victoria Police is ramping up efforts to prevent and protect the community from fires which have been recklessly or intentionally lit.
Last summer, 95 per cent of fire-related offences were caused by reckless actions such as using tools or machinery during a fire danger period or burning off without a permit.
Police will have a heightened focus over summer under a new framework to boost the ability to prevent, detect and respond to fires, which includes a zero-tolerance approach to any behaviour which may cause a fire.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Grainger said police will use an intelligence-led approach to proactively monitor high risk areas in an effort to stop risky behaviour before it has devastating consequences.
“Local police will be active in assessing their local fire risks this summer, using intelligence and local knowledge to task and resource effectively,” Assistant Commisioner Grainger said.
“Deliberate and reckless behaviour involving fire can result in a huge cost to the community through loss of life, destruction of property and the environment.
“Year on year police see far too many people taking part in careless and reckless behaviour that results in fires during the summer period.
“A recklessly lit fire such as failing to properly extinguish a campfire is a crime that carries severe penalties.”
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to be mindful of their activities during fire danger periods, otherwise your actions could result in the cause of a bushfire.”
Victoria Police will adopt this approach to preventing, detecting and responding to suspicious fires all year round, but the focus will be heightened during the warmer months.
Anyone found guilty of recklessly or intentionally causing a bushfire faces a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment.
Lighting a fire on a Total Fire Ban (TFB) day can also attract a fine of around $37,000 or up to two years in jail.
Grainger also identified the significant role the community and emergency services personnel play in helping police detect and prevent fires.
“Rest assured that information provided by the community is our most valuable tool,” Grainger said.
“The information provided by members of the public is a contemporary and real-time source of intelligence that police use on a daily basis.
Anyone who witnesses suspicious behaviour as it is occurring should call Triple Zero (000) and anyone with any information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au