Message from the Chief Commissioner

Initiatives and Programs

Release date: Mon 20 December 2010

Last updated: Wed 28 December 2016

Bushfire Arson Prevention_Internet_main

Bushfire Arson

Bushfire arson has a devastating impact on the community. It has the potential to injure or kill people, cause significant financial loss, and destroy property as well as the environment.

Bushfire Arson Prevention Policy Statement 2015 - 2018

The Bushfire Arson Policy Statement 2015 - 2018 articulates the organisation's ongoing commitment to preventing harm caused by bushfire arson in Victoria.

What is bushfire arson?
A bushfire caused by a person intentionally or recklessly.

Arson is a serious crime
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.

Operation Firesetter
Victoria Police, as part of Operation Firesetter, will be conducting highly visible patrols to prevent and apprehend arsonists. Investigations into suspicious fire activity and bushfire arson persons of interest will also be undertaken. Operation Firesetter is a state-wide coordinated initiative that will intensify during periods of high fire danger. 

If you see something

Victoria Police urges the community to report suspicious behaviour by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

In an emergency or if you see smoke or fire, call police immediately on Triple Zero (000).

If you know something

People who commit bushfire arson are not always strangers, they often live and work in local communities. If you have concerns about a member of your family, a friend or colleague, they might need help. You can make a confidential report to Crime Stoppers.

Say something

If you do know something, say something. You can provide information to Crime Stoppers confidentially on 1800 333 000.

Alternatively you can file an online Information Report by visiting the Crime Stoppers website.

How You Can Help - Before the Fire

Can you identify a person, or vehicle, you observed near the area where a bushfire occurred, or do you know of someone who has been lighting fires?

If you believe a person, or vehicle, is behaving in a suspicious manner write down the details. If you record the details straight away the more accurate they are likely to be, and the more helpful the information will be to Police.

If you are suspicious of a person or a vehicle, write down the following details:

For vehicles:

  • registration
  • make
  • model
  • colour
  • any damage to vehicle

For individuals:

  • age
  • height
  • hair colour
  • build
  • facial hair
  • clothing

How You Can Help - After the Fire

If a fire affects your neighbourhood, try to:

  • 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.

Pass this information onto Police, or anonymously to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

How can you help - Reducing high risk fire activities

A large number of bushfires in Victoria could be prevented if people did not engage in reckless conduct or arson.

Like arson, a recklessly caused fire is a crime. Victoria Police will pursue anyone who, through their own reckless behaviour, starts a fire that gets out of control.

Recklessness can be a range of things such as failing to properly extinguish a campfire or using tools such as angle grinders on a day of total fire ban.

The most common causes of recklessly lit fires are:

  • Burning off
  • Cigarette butts
  • Campfires
  • Car exhausts and machinery
  • Use of tools such as angle grinders and welding equipment out in the open
  • Bonfires and flares

Recklessly caused fires are often viewed by the community as accidental.

In reality, the potential for injury, loss of life, property damage and drain on resources is the same as that caused by arson.

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