Victoria Police recognises the serious impact bushfire can have on communities and is committed to an intelligence-led, partnership approach to preventing the incidence of bushfire arson, preserving life, protecting property and detecting offenders.
Victoria is one of the highest bushfire risk areas in the world. Victoria Police adopts a zero-tolerance approach to deliberately or recklessly lit fires in our state.
The social and economic costs associated with the bushfires are incredibly high and they have a devastating impact on communities, lives and properties.
Offences of bushfire arson, whether deliberate or reckless can cause:
- loss of life
- widespread destruction of property
- heightened fear within the community.
Victoria Police is committed to pursuing anyone who causes a bushfire, regardless of intent.
Preventing a bushfire
Most preventable bushfires in Victoria are caused by people who live and work in their local community. Many of their preventable actions that have led to bushfire include:
- burning off during prohibited periods
- using equipment or machinery on days of elevated fire risk
- failing to properly extinguish fires such campfires or bonfires
- improperly disposing of barbecue coals
- car exhausts or discharge from truck flues coming into contact with grassland near roadside verges
- children and teenagers ‘experimenting’ with fire.
Victoria Police relies on the community to help monitor activities and behaviour that may cause a bushfire, so it is important to contact the fire brigade or police if you observe any concerning conduct.
Reporting concerning activities or behaviour
- observe people using machinery, equipment, campfires or barbecues, especially during prohibited fire periods or on days of elevated fire risk;
- observe activity near the area where a bushfire has occurred;
- know of someone who has been lighting fires
report it to police.
In an emergency or if you see smoke or fire, call police immediately on Triple Zero (000).
Victoria Police urges the community to monitor and report any concerning behaviour by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Alternatively, you can file an online Information Report by visiting the Crime Stoppers website
Immediately recording and reporting the details of any concerning behaviour or activity help police to respond.
Where you can, capture the following details.
Following a fire, recording events is just as important.
- note the description of any people who have entered or left the scene before the fire started
- note the description of any vehicles entering or leaving the scene before the fire started
- note any activity in the area prior to the fire starting, such as camping, firewood collecting, bushwalkers etc
- remember the time and location where you first observed the fire
report to police.
A recklessly lit or abandoned fire is a crime that carries severe penalties. The maximum penalty for arson causing death in Victoria is 25 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for intentionally or recklessly causing a bushfire is 15 years imprisonment.
Reviewed 15 November 2019