We understand that smoke from planned burns may cause concern, and we want to avoid placing any additional burden on the health of any groups in the community as the current public health crisis of the COVID-19 progresses.
We encourage those who are more sensitive to smoke – older people, pregnant women or people with health issues – to remain indoors and keep windows closed until the smoke passes.
The current advice from the Chief Health Officer is that our planned burning program can continue, and that the situation will be continually monitored to ensure this advice remains current. While conditions allow and it is safe to do so, we are taking every opportunity to burn.
We cannot risk delaying burns and missing the opportunity to protect communities from bushfire and after the scale of the recent bushfire season, we are empathetic to concerns and greatly appreciate the community working with us while this important work is carried out.
If you live in or are visiting a smoke affected area
Plan ahead to protect your health – be prepared for smoke:
- sign up to the new planned burn site Vic Planned Burns to see what's happening in your region
- if you have a health condition, follow the treatment plan provided by your doctor
- if you are asthmatic, follow your asthma plan and carry reliever medication with you.
Burning plans can change at very short notice because of the weather.
During smoky conditions
First check whether the cause of smoke is a bushfire or planned burn:
- check Planned Burns across Victoria, and warnings, bushfires and incidents
- call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226
- follow any relevant advice messages.
To reduce the effects of smoke:
- avoid physical activity
- stay indoors
- close windows and doors
- switch your air conditioner to recycle or recirculate.
- you may wish to leave the area while it is affected by smoke
If you experience symptoms that may come from smoke, seek medical advice or call NURSE-ON-CALL. Also see:
- the Asthma Foundation – bushfires, planned burns and asthma
- the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) – smoke and your health
More about smoke
Smoke stays around:
- a few days – after a planned burn
- up to two weeks – if many planned burns across the state.
Planned burns create smoke:
- at any time of the year – whenever the weather and other conditions for planned burning are right
- mostly in autumn – when burning conditions tend to be most suitable, and smoke tends to stay around
- also in spring – when conditions suit smaller strategic burns, and smoke tends to clear more quickly.
Smoke comes from burns undertaken by:
- forest fire management – burns are carried out on public land to reduce fuels, maintain the health of plants and animals and regenerate timber harvesting coupes
- local councils – the CFA burns on council land and roadsides to reduce fuel and control pest plants
- farmers – they burn stubble in autumn, and reduce fuels in spring
- plantation companies – they burn leftover woody material after timber harvesting or before re-planting
- rail, water and other authorities – they arrange burns along railway lines and other land
- interstate agencies – from New South Wales, South Australia or even Tasmania.
Forest Fire Management Victoria and the Bureau of Meteorology have developed a smoke forecasting service to help reduce the impact of smoke on nearby communities, where possible.
The health information on this web page is also available as a leaflet (PDF, 76.0 KB).
Page last updated: 16/04/20