What Is A Total Fire Ban?

A Total Fire Ban is declared by the Minister for Emergency Services on advice from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services after consultation with relevant local shire councils that may be affected.

When a Total Fire Ban is declared it prohibits the lighting of any fires in the open air and any other activities that may start a fire.

The ban includes all open fires for the purpose of cooking or camping. It also includes incinerators, welding, grinding, soldering or gas cutting. Exemptions are allowed for domestic purposes with conditions applied.

What you can and can’t do when a Total Fire Ban has been declared.

Can I use my BBQ?

This depends on what type of BBQ or cooker you have, and where it is located.

During a Total Fire Ban you cannot light or use a fire in the open air. Undercover areas such as patios, pergolas and huts that are open or partially open to the weather are deemed to be in the open air.

Solid fuel

No. You cannot use any BBQ or cooker that requires solid fuel such as wood or charcoal. This includes wood fired ovens or stoves, and Webber like BBQs.

Gas

Yes. You can use a gas BBQ for cooking if it has an enclosed flame and:

  • All flammable material is cleared five metres away from around your BBQ.
  • Your BBQ is never left unattended.

BBQs with exposed flames cannot be used.

Electric

Yes. You can use an electric BBQ where there is no flame.

What happens if I don't have a five metre buffer zone for my BBQ?

In residential areas where there is not enough space to create your five metre buffer, due to a fence or building, you must:

  • Ensure the area around your BBQ is free from flammable material.
  • Ensure no burning or hot material escapes this area.
  • Be in reach of a garden hose.

Short green grass less than five centimetres in height, paving stones, bricks and reticulated gardens are not considered to be flammable.

Can I have a BBQ in my local park?

Yes. But only under strict conditions.

If you are in a public space or park you must only cook in an area sign posted as a BBQ area.

You can only use an electric or gas appliance that has an enclosed flame.

All flammable material must be cleared five metres around the appliance.

Short green grass less than five centimetres in height, paving stones, bricks and reticulated gardens are not considered to be flammable.

You cannot use solid fuel such as wood or charcoal in the open air.

Can I use my wood fired pizza oven?

No. You cannot use solid fuel such as wood or charcoal in the open air this includes outdoor wood fired pizza ovens.

Undercover areas such as patios, pergolas and huts that are open or partially open to the weather are deemed to be in the open air.

Can I use a chainsaw, plant or grass trimmer, or lawn mower?

Yes. These activities can be undertaken in suburban or built up areas, but not in bushland or other areas where their use is likely to cause fire.

However, if possible postpone this work as the risk of starting a fire is extremely high.

Can I use a generator?

Yes. These activities can be undertaken in suburban or built up areas, but not in bushland or other areas where their use is likely to cause fire.

However, if possible postpone this work as the risk of starting a fire is extremely high.

Can I use equipment and machinery (e.g. bobcats, excavators, bulldozers etc)?

Yes. These activities can be undertaken in suburban or built up areas, but not in bushland or other areas where their use is likely to cause fire.

However, if possible postpone this work as the risk of starting a fire is extremely high.

Can I do grinding, welding, or other forms of "hot works"?

These types of activities are not allowed at all unless you have an exemption.

Can I burn leaves, garden waste and grass cuttings, or use an incinerator?

No. During a Total Fire Ban it is illegal to:

  • Light, maintain or use a fire in the open air.
  • Carry out any activity that causes or is likely to cause a fire in the open air.

Can I light a camp fire?

No. During a Total Fire Ban it is illegal to:

  • Light, maintain or use a fire in the open air.
  • Carry out any activity that causes or is likely to cause a fire in the open air.

Can I cook while camping outdoors?

No. You cannot:

  • Light a camp fire or maintain a fire in the open air.
  • Use any solid fuel such as wood or charcoal for cooking.
  • Carry out any activity that causes or is likely to cause a fire in the open air.

If you are in a public space or park you must only cook in an area sign posted for the purpose. You can only use an electric or gas appliance that has an enclosed flame.

All flammable material must be cleared five metres around the appliance.

Can I use fireworks?

No. Any activity that causes or is likely to cause a fire in the open air is banned.

Licensed pyrotechnics should seek further advice from DFES or their local shire council.

Can I use a hot air balloon?

No. Any activity that causes or is likely to cause a fire in the open air is banned.

Can I feed or water my stock in a paddock?

Yes, as long as a Vehicle Movement Ban has not been implemented.

If a Vehicle Movement Ban has been implemented, the immediate welfare of animals, such as urgent watering and feeding of stock has an automatic exemption.

However:

  • You must ensure your vehicle is mechanically sound and the exhaust system is in good condition, free of gas leaks and/or has a spark arrester that is well maintained.
  • You must ensure all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent a bushfire starting.
  • Your vehicle must be a firefighting vehicle or accompanied by a firefighting vehicle unless the situation is so urgent it is not practical to wait.

Can I harvest my crop?

Yes, as long as a Harvest and Vehicle Movement ban has not been implemented and you have a firefighting vehicle on site with, a minimum of 400 litres of water.

Can I operate or move an aeroplane or helicopter in a paddock?

No. This is only allowed if you are using your aeroplane or helicopter to prevent immediate or serious risk to the health or safety of a person or livestock as long as the following conditions are met:

  • You must ensure your aeroplane or helicopter is mechanically sound.
  • You must take all reasonable precautions to prevent a bushfire starting.
  • A firefighting vehicle must be on site where our aeroplane or helicopter is unless the situation is so urgent it is not practical to wait for a fire fighting vehicle.

Can I use blasting equipment or explosives?

There are too many variations with regard to this activity. If it is necessary to carry out this activity you should contact your local Chief Bushfire Control Officer at your local shire council or nearest DFES office.