Bushfire Communication


Schools on the Bushfire At-Risk Register and Category 4

School preparedness and pre-emptive actions for the bushfire season

Fire danger ratings indicate how dangerous a fire would be if one started in those conditions and provide clear direction on the safest options for preserving life. They can be a trigger for action in the community and for school and household level fire plans.

Schools and children’s services listed on the Department of Education and Training’s Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR), and those at some lower risk of bushfire or grassfire on the Category 4 list, will be closed when a Catastrophic fire danger rating day is forecast in their Bureau of Meteorology district. Gembrook Primary School has been identified as a BARR school and our school will close when there is a Catastrophic Fire Danger Rating in the CENTRAL fire district.

 Schools and early childhood services listed on the Department of Education and Training’s Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR) and those at lower risk of bushfire or grassfire on the Category 4 list take pre-emptive actions on elevated fire danger days to minimise the risk of being caught in a fire in these conditions. The category of risk (per the BARR or Category 4 list) determines the actions that the school or early childhood service will need to take on days of elevated fire danger.

Our school will enact its pre-emptive action plan and also plan to close, if approved by the Regional Director, on a day forecasted as Extreme Fire Danger Rating in our local government area (LGA), Cardinia Shire. The school must satisfy the minister of a number of factors to be considered for closure on and Extreme forecast day and it is not guaranteed to be approved. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) publishes the LGA Fire Danger Rating which is used by the Department of Education. This rating can be different to the summary rating for the Central District which is available on the the Vic Emergency App.

The department will advise our school of the potential for a Catastrophic fire danger rating as information becomes available, however the pre-emptive closure will be confirmed by 1pm the day prior to Catastrophic fire danger day.  Fire danger ratings are forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology up to four days in advance.

Should a Catastrophic day be forecast, we will notify you of the closure by an SMS, notification on COMPASS and email. If we are unable to ascertain whether our message has been delivered, we will attempt to contact you by telephone. A hard copy letter will be provided if time allows. Please ensure we have your current contact details, including your mobile phone numbers.

Closure of the school due to a forecast Catastrophic day will be CONFIRMED ON THE DAY PRIOR and we will provide you with this advice before the end of the school day.

Once confirmed, the decision to close will not change, regardless of improvements in the weather forecast.  This is to avoid confusion and help your family plan alternative care arrangements for your child.  It is also important to note that:

  • No staff will be on site on days where the school is closed due to a forecast Catastrophic day.
  • Out-of-school-hours care will also be cancelled on these days.
  • School camps will be cancelled if a Catastrophic fire danger rating day is forecast for the Bureau of Meteorology district in which the camp is located, or if the travel involves passing through areas that have Catastrophic fire danger.
  • All bus routes that travel through the Catastrophic area will be cancelled.

As part of preparing our school for potential hazards such as fire, we have updated and completed our Emergency Management Plan cleared our facility’s grounds and gutters of debris.

Families are encouraged to enact their Bushfire Survival Plan on Catastrophic fire danger rating days.  On such days, children should never be left at home alone or in the care of older children.


The Country Fire Authority (CFA) advises that when Catastrophic days are forecast, the safest option is to leave the night before or early on the morning of the Catastrophic day. Please ensure your plan includes alternative care arrangements for your children in the event that our school is closed.

You can access current information about school and early childhood services closures, including those due to elevated fire danger, on the Department of Education and Training’s website – see http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/health/pages/closures.aspx

Multiple sources that offer information on emergencies are listed below:

CFA (Country Fire Authority) The Local Gevernment Area (LGA) forecasts on this site are used by the Department of Education in determining school closures.


­ VicEmergency app – that can be downloaded on your android and iOS mobile devices

­ VicEmergency Hotline (1800 226 226)

­ Website https://emergency.vic.gov.au

­ Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/vicemergency)

­ Twitter (https://twitter.com/vicemergency)

­ ABC local radio, Sky News and other emergency broadcasters