With what is predicted to be an above-average fire season looming, the fire danger period has started in Macedon Ranges and Sunbury.

Fire restrictions came into effect on December 4, meaning burn-offs and open fires are banned without a written permit.

Anyone caught lighting a fire without a permit can face penalties of more than $21,600 and/or 12 months imprisonment.

Restrictions also apply to the use of chainsaws, incinerators and farm machinery.

CFA District 02 operations manager Bill Johnstone said forecasts indicated the area would experience an above-average fire season this summer.

While burning-off is banned, he said it was still important for landowners to clean up properties to minimise fire risks.

Green waste can be disposed of for free at Macedon Ranges council’s waste transfer stations.

The council is doing its bit to prepare for the fire season, with roadside slashing works and fire prevention inspections well under way.

Almost 400 fire prevention notices have so far been issued to Macedon Ranges residents, forcing residents to resolve, or pay to have resolved, fire risks on their properties.

In the event of a bushfire that requires residents to evacuate their homes, the council will open an emergency relief centre with support and accommodation.

The council is encouraging residents to stay informed throughout the bushfire season via radio, the VicEmergency Hotline (1800 226 226) and the VicEmergency website (emergency.vic.gov.au).

The council has also advised people to drink plenty of water, never leave people or pets in vehicles, plan ahead and keep cool on hot summer days.

Residents can escape the summer heat at air-conditioned libraries in Gisborne, Kyneton, Romsey and Woodend. During normal operating hours, the libraries offer free water, kids toys, wi-fi and internet access.

Details: mrsc.vic.gov.au/See-Do/Our-Facilities/Libraries

Visit cfa.vic.gov.au/can for details on fire restrictions.