VICTORIA Police have launched Operation Safeguard as the state warms up.
They are asking Victorians to stay vigilant about fire safety this season, despite a wetter forecast than usual.
Operation Safeguard aims to deter or reduce the impact of intentional and recklessly lit fires.
Between July 2020 and June 2021, there were 21 offences recorded for recklessly causing a bushfire and 12 for intentionally causing a bushfire.
People found guilty for these crimes can face fines and up to 15 years imprisonment.
Assistant Commissioner State Emergencies and Support Command, Michael Grainger, warned Victorians to be alert this fire season.
“Now is not the time to be complacent – summer in Victoria means the risk of fire is imminent. In hot, dry and windy conditions, fires can start quickly, are fast-moving and can have devastating impacts,” he said.
“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.
“Preventing bushfires is everyone’s responsibility – we’re asking the community to be mindful of their activities during the summer period and act responsibly – it could be your actions the result in a devastating bushfire, causing loss of life and property.”
Victoria Police will be monitoring the fire risk and will be deploying extra resources to high risk areas throughout the operation.
Common causes of recklessly lit fires include burning off, car exhausts and machinery, use of tools such as angle grinders, bonfires, flares, and farming machinery.
Police are encouraging people to report any reckless or suspicious behaviour.
The operation will run until March next year.
Anyone who witnesses suspicious behaviour as it is occurring should phone 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