Authorities in a fire emergency
During a fire emergency, officers in the following agencies have the power to order evacuations:
- Victoria Police
- Country Fire Authority (CFA members)
- Park Rangers.
In a fire emergency you should assume that any police officers, CFA officers or park rangers who give you directions are authorised to do so.
Remaining on property during a fire emergency
The police, CFA and park rangers cannot order you to leave any land, building or premises where you have a pecuniary (financial) interest in that land, building or premises, or in any goods inside. In other words, if you have ownership or part ownership of the land itself, or of a building or house on the land, or of any goods or valuables within the building, you cannot be ordered to leave if you are already there. This includes landowners, tenants, owners of goods in a shop or factory, share farmers and people who own or lease a caravan in a caravan park.
You are permitted under the law to fight the fire, with or without the CFA, on land or premises in which you have a financial interest.
If you are on land or premises in which you do not have a financial interest, you must obey any direction given to you by the police, CFA, or park rangers. This could include a direction to evacuate the area.
You can be charged with a criminal offence and fined if you do not obey a direction given by the police, CFA or Park Rangers. You should get legal advice if you are charged with an offence.
Returning to property during a fire emergency
The police, CFA, and park rangers can:
- Prevent you from going to a property you have a financial interest in if you are not already there.
- Prevent you from returning to a property you have a financial interest in if you leave.
- If you are trying to travel to a land, building or premises in which you have a financial interest, you must obey any roadblocks or road closures, even if they prevent you from accessing your destination.
- The police, CFA or park rangers can prohibit you from returning to your property until the CFA assess that the roads leading to your property, and the property itself, do not pose a risk to your life, a risk of reigniting the fire, or a risk to property.
Where to get help
Call Disaster Legal Help Victoria on 1800 113 432 (weekdays 8am to 6pm) for legal information and referrals or contact your closest community legal to get advice from a local lawyer. For alternative contact options, visit our homepage.
For additional support options and a directory of other services, visit Other organisations that can help.
Your Guide to Survival – CFA
A 20-page by the CFA that provides essential information aimed at anyone who lives, works or travels in Victoria so that they are prepared for the summer fire season.
Reviewed 06 December 2022