Fire and Your Responsibilities
Fire and Your Responsibilities
The fundamental principle established by the Bushfires Act is that the responsibility for bushfire management rests with the landholder. The Basic Fire Laws (pdf 1.3mb) brochure (Khmer (pdf 195Kb), Thai (pdf 1.4Mb) and Vietnamese (pdf 198Kb) brochure translations) summarises key sections of the Act and is a useful guide for all landholders.Additional information on preventing and mitigating the effects of bushfires is included on the bushfire prevention page.
The Bushfires Act 2009 says you must not set fire or cause fire to be set to land or property belonging to any other person under such circumstances as to cause or be likely to cause damage to that other person or that land or property.
Maximum penalty for failure to comply:
$25,000 fine or imprisonment for 5 years.
In the Northern Territory, certain areas have been declared as Fire Protection Zones, these are:
- All of the Vernon Region
- 50 km radius from Katherine PO
- 50 km radius from Tennant Creek PO
- 50 km radius from Alice Springs airport
|Fire Protection Zone maps|
You must not set fire to any bush or other inflammable material on land within a fire protection zone at any time of the year, except with and in accordance with the terms of a Permit to Burn, issued by a Fire Warden of a Fire Control Officer. Permits can be obtained from your local Fire Warden or Regional Fire Control Officer.
If it is necessary for you to use a fire for the purpose of camping, cooking or the urgent disposal of an animal carcass, this must not be done unless:
- the nearest flammable matter to the fire is more than 4 metres away
- the fire is fully extinguished before being left.
Fires may be lit without a Permit, on land that you own and manage, outside a Fire Protection Zone, except where the land lies within a declared Fire Danger Area.
The Minister may during the fire season declare a Fire Danger Period over certain areas defined by lines of latitude. When such period has been declared the following restrictions apply to the lighting of all fires in the open air:
If a fire is required for the purpose of clearing land, mustering cattle, burning firebreaks or for any other purpose, a Permit to Burn must first be obtained from either a Fire Warden or a Fire Control Officer
The best way to manage the risk of uncontrolled bushfires is to keep fuel levels low. Around you house, along your boundary or in bushland you want to mange, keeping fuel loads down will ensure that any wildfire that does start will generally remain low in intensity.
Throughout the Northern Territory, many people elect to undertake planned burning of vegetation in controlled conditions and at a time of day and season that will ensure the fire remains under control but effectively reduces fuel loads.
Prescribed burning to reduce fuel loads is in fact a major component of the wildfire mitigation program across the Territory. Fuel reduction burning has proven highly effective in establishing areas of low or no fuel that contain the spread of wildfires and protect lives, property and the environment.
Assistance in the planning, risk assessment and in some circumstances, with the application of fire to manage fuel loads is available through Bushfires NT and the Volunteer Bushfire Brigade network.
Obviously, there is a risk that fire may be beyond the control of the person undertaking the burn and cause damage, both to you and your neighbours. The Bushfires Act 2009 makes it illegal to light a fire without a permit, and provides guidance about the issuing of those permits.
Permits to burn are required at all times if your property is located in a Fire Protection Zone.
The Bushfires Act states:
- Any person may apply to a fire control officer or fire warden for a permit.
- A fire control officer or fire warden to whom an application under subsection (1) is made shall determine the application by:
- issuing, either conditionally or unconditionally, a permit; or
- refusing to issue a permit.
- A permit issued under or pursuant to this Act shall:
- be in writing;
- to the land in which it relates; and
- the period during which it is in force; and
- contain such conditions as the fire control officer or fire warden who issues it thinks fit.
- A permit may be varied or revoked orally by a fire control officer or fire warden.
You can light a campfire for cooking purposes provided flammable material is cleared within four (4) metres and you extinguish it before leaving
When a Fire Danger Area has been declared or during fire danger periods, burning is not allowed on a Fire Ban Day and any existing fires must be extinguished. For more information contact Bushfires NT.Contacts
The triple zero (000) service is the quickest way to get the right help from emergency services and should be used to contact Police, Fire or Ambulance services in a life threatening or time critical situations.
A total ban on the lighting of fires in the open may be imposed during periods of Very High or Extreme fire danger. During this time no fires of any kind may be lit in the open air with the exception of those fires used for cooking or boiling water, provided that the nearest flammable matter to the fire is more than 4 metres away.
Total bans are announced on radio and in the press; when the ban is lifted normal burning restrictions continue to apply. If you have a fire on your property that was lit prior to the commencement of a Fire Ban, you must put it out or if you are unable to do so you must immediately notify a Fire Warden or Fire Control Officer.
Under the Bushfires Act, a Fire Control Officer or Fire Warden, for the purpose of controlling a bushfire or protecting property or life from danger arising out of a bushfire has the power to:
- enter any building or upon any land
- pull down, cut or remove any fence
- establish a firebreak by using fire or otherwise
- take water from any source other than drinking or domestic water
- cause any road or public place to be closed to traffic
- require a person reasonably suspected of having committed an offence against the Act to giver their full name and place of residence and produce any permit held by them
- require a person who has list or is using a fire in contravention of the Act to immediately put it out.
The Chief Fire Control Officer may require you to construct firebreaks on or remove flammable material from land apparently under your control
Land owners or occupiers
If you are the owner or occupier of any land and you are made aware that a fire on your property is likely to spread to other land, you must take all reasonable steps to control the fire. If you are unable to do so you must immediately notify
- a Fire Warden or Fire Control Officer; and
- all neighbouring property holders of the fact
- Do not start or drive a motor vehicles (within meaning of the Motor Vehicles Act) or start an engine unless a spark arrester has been fitted.
- Do not use electric or gas welding or cutting equipment in the open in a Fire Protection Zone or during a Fire Danger Period or Fire Ban Day:
- within 4 metres of any flammable material; and
- unless there is a fire extinguisher readily available.
Cigarettes and other burning or smouldering matter must be thoroughly extinguished before being disposed of.
Hindering a Fire Control Officer or Fire Warden in the exercise of their duty, or failing to comply with any requirements so made is an offence.
Penalty $5,000 or imprisonment for 2 years.
Giving false information or producing false documentation to a Fire Control Officer or Fire Warden exercising their duty is an offence.
Penalty $5,000 or imprisonment for 2 years.
This is not a legal document but rather a summary of the Bushfires Act. It does not cover all the provisions of the Act but refers to those matters with which the majority of people will be concerned.
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