Fire danger ratings indicate how dangerous a fire would be if one started in those conditions and provide clear direction on the safest options for preserving life. They can be a trigger for action in community and for school and household level fire plans.
Schools and children’s services listed on the Department of Education and Training’s Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR) and those at some lower risk of bushfire or grassfire on the Category 4 list will be closed when a Catastrophic fire danger rating day is forecast in their Bureau of Meteorology district.
Schools and early childhood services listed on the Department of Education and Training’s Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR) and those at lower risk of bushfire or grassfire on the Category 4 list take pre-emptive actions on elevated fire danger days to minimise the risk of being caught in a fire in these conditions. The category of risk (per the BARR or Category 4 list) determines the actions that the school or early childhood service will need to take on days of elevated fire danger.
Our school has been identified as being one of these schools at high bushfire or grassfire risk and is listed on the Bushfire at Risk Register (BARR).
Our school will enact its pre-emptive action plan for closure on a day forecasted as Extreme fire danger rating in our local government area (LGA), Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
Our will enact its pre-emptive action plan for closure close on a day forecasted as High and Extreme fire danger ratings in our local government area (LGA), Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
Our school will also close on a day forecasted as Catastrophic fire danger rating in Mornington Peninsula Shire Council fire district.
The department will advise our school of the potential for a Catastrophic fire danger rating as information becomes available, however the pre-emptive closure will be confirmed by 1pm the day prior to Catastrophic fire danger day.
Fire danger ratings are forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology up to four days in advance. Should a Catastrophic day be forecast, we will notify you of the potential closure by an email or hard copy letter and SMS message. Closure of the school due to a forecast Catastrophic day will be confirmed on the day prior and we will provide you with advice before the end of the school day.
Once confirmed, the decision to close will not change, regardless of improvements in the weather forecast. This is to avoid confusion and help your family plan alternative care arrangements for your child. It is also important to note that:
- No staff will be on site on days where the school is closed due to a forecast Catastrophic day.
- Out-of-school-hours care will also be cancelled on these days.
- School camps will be cancelled if a Catastrophic fire danger rating day is forecast for the Bureau of Meteorology district in which the camp is located, or if the travel involves passing through areas that have Catastrophic fire danger.
- All bus routes that travel through the Catastrophic area will be cancelled.
- Depending on which fire weather district is impacted, bus route cancellations may affect our school.
Families are encouraged to enact their Bushfire Survival Plan on Catastrophic fire danger rating days. On such days, children should never be left at home alone or in the care of older children.
For those of us living in a bushfire prone area, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) advises that when Catastrophic days are forecast, the safest option is to leave the night before or early on the morning of the Catastrophic day.
As part of preparing our school for potential hazards such as fire, we have updated and completed our Emergency Management Plan and reprioritised any maintenance works that may assist in preparing for the threat of fire and cleared our facility’s grounds and gutters, regularly manage materials that may easily be ignited around buildings and facilities, ensuring all flammable materials within the school grounds are identified on the school chemical register and appropriate storage is arranged in flammable resistant cabinets, and ensure all buildings are continuously kept clear of obstructions to maintain the integrity of classroom and office exit points at all times.
What can parents do?
- Make sure your family’s bushfire survival plan is up-to-date and includes alternative care arrangements in the event that our school is closed due to elevated fire danger or a Catastrophic fire forecast. Further information can be found on the CFA’s website.
- Ensure we have your current contact details, including your mobile phone numbers. Keep in touch with us by reading our newsletters, checking our website dsc.vic.edu.au, by talking to your child’s teacher or any other member of the teaching staff about our emergency management plan.
- Most importantly at this time of year, if you’re planning a holiday or short stay in the bush or in a coastal area, you should check warnings in advance of travel and remain vigilant during your stay.
- If your child is old enough, talk to them about bushfires and your family’s Bushfire Survival Plan.
- You can access current information about school and early childhood services closures, including those due to elevated fire danger, on the Department of Education and Training’s website – see http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/health/pages/closures.aspx
Multiple sources that offer information on emergencies are listed below:
- VicEmergency app – that can be downloaded on your android and iOS mobile devices
- VicEmergency Hotline (1800 226 226)
- Website https://emergency.vic.gov.au
- Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/vicemergency)
- Twitter (https://twitter.com/vicemergency)
- ABC local radio, Sky News and other emergency broadcasters