Operation Safeguard returns


Tara Murray

Police will again be out in force this summer with the aim to deter or reduce the impact of intentional and recklessly lit fires across Victoria.

Victoria Police has launched its annual Operation Safeguard, with police to use intelligence to monitor the fire risk and deploy additional resources to areas deemed high risk, particularly during fire danger periods.

With a wetter than average summer predicted, police are warning the community not to be complacent when it comes to their actions causing fires – even if unintentional.

Last finanical year, there were 21 offences detected for recklessly causing a bushfire and 12 offences for intentionally causing a bushfire.

The most common causes of recklessly lit fires include burning off, campfires, car exhausts and machinery, use of tools such as angle grinders and welding equipment, bonfires and flares and farming machinery such as harvesters.

In January, a fire was deliberately lit in Taylors Lakes on vacant land, which also damaged the fences of neighbouring properties.

Anyone found guilty of recklessly or intentionally causing a bushfire can face significant fines and penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Assistant Commissioner State Emergencies and Support Command Michael Grainger said now was not the time to be complacent.

“While we do have people deliberately lighting fires in the community, what is of concern is the number of recklessly lit fires in recent years.

“We will be targeting those people who engage in careless behaviour, such as burning off without a permit, not putting out a campfire properly or using tools or machinery during fire restrictions.”

Tara Murray