VICTORIANS facing catastrophic code-red bushfire danger days will get up to four days' warning to enact their fire safety plan and get out of high-risk areas.
Country Fire Authority chief fire officer Russell Rees said the technology was there to predict the worst days well before they happened, and warnings would go out as early as possible.
"Three or four days out, we'll be saying very clearly that there are parts of Victoria that are looking to be in [the catastrophic] range … and our recommendation is to put in place that plan [and] if you don't need to be there, don't be there," Mr Rees said.
Premier John Brumby said the only way to guarantee safety was to leave early.
"On those very, very worst code-red days, if you want to be 100 per cent safe, the safest thing to do is to leave," he said.
Mr Brumby's warning came as Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel said some retailers had been advertising bushfire bunkers that met a national safety standard despite no standard existing.
He said three retailers had made the claims about concrete bunkers and septic tanks. Mr Samuel said false claims about the safety standard of bushfire bunkers could lead to deaths.
Across the state, preparations for the coming bushfire season are under way. The Department of Sustainability and Environment yesterday began clearing a 100-metre-wide fuel break at Mount Dandenong, and Mr Brumby said efforts had been stepped up in high-risk areas.
"Every step that can be taken is being taken to make the highest-risk areas as fire safe and as fire ready as possible," he said.
Opening an incident control centre in Gisborne, Mr Brumby said upgrades of equipment and technology at 43 centres were continuing, and 16 in the highest-risk areas would be done before the end of October.
A further 21 would be completed by the end of December, with the final six wrapped up by the end of June 2010.
But Opposition bushfire response spokesman Peter Ryan said the upgrades should have been done earlier.
"The real worry in this is that there will be parts of Victoria which are dangerously under-prepared to be able to contend with the threat of this season," he said.
Mr Rees said the $28 million in upgrades would help ensure high-risk areas were ready.
"Our aim is to have the high-risk ICCs ready and operating as soon as possible," he said.
¦ Recognising the importance of parkland, vegetable plots and streetscapes, the Australian Open Garden Scheme has donated $80,000 to rebuild or restore community-based gardens in bushfire-affected areas. Grants of up to $20,000 are available for each project.
The scheme's chief executive, Neil Robertson, said he hoped the money would be used for the lasting benefit of affected communities and ''enhance people's knowledge and pleasure of plants and gardens''.
The scheme's bushfire community grants draw upon proceeds of a special opening by Dame Elisabeth Murdoch of her property, Cruden Farm.
Grant applications, which close on April 30, 2010, can be sent to opengarden.org.au.
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