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Total Fire Ban rules

No fires during a Total Fire BanDuring a Total Fire Ban you cannot light, maintain or use a fire in the open, or to carry out any activity in the open that causes, or is likely to cause, a fire.

No general purpose hot works such as using tractors, slashers and/or welding, grinding or gas cutting can be done in the open either, and this includes incinerators and barbecues which burn solid fuel, eg. wood or charcoal.

Why are Total Fire Bans declared?

Bush fires are more likely to spread and cause damage on days when the weather is very hot, dry and windy. These are usually on very high to extreme fire days.

To reduce the risk of fires damaging or destroying life, property and the environment the NSW RFS Commissioner may declare a Total Fire Ban.

Can I use an electric barbeque?

You can use an electric barbeque for cooking as long as it is under the direct control of a responsible adult, who is present at all times while it is operating, and no combustible material is allowed within two metres at any time it is operating.

Can I use a gas barbeque?

You can use a gas barbeque under the following conditions:

  • It is under the direct control of a responsible adult, who is present at all times while it is operating;
  • No combustible material is allowed within two metres at any time it is operating;
  • You have an immediate and continuous supply of water; and
    • The barbeque is within 20 metres of a permanent private dwelling such as a home; or
    • The barbeque is within a designated picnic area and the appliance is approved by Council, National Parks or State Forest.

Can I use fire during a Total Fire Ban if I have a fire permit?

Even with a fire permit, the lighting of a fire is prohibited and the permit is automatically suspended, on Total Fire Ban days, days of Extreme fire danger, or when the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) declared a No Burn Day. Suspended fire permits may resume after the Total Fire Ban or the No Burn Day is lifted, provided the fire permit has not expired. More information on permits can be found on out Fire Permit page.

What is a No Burn day?

The EPA may prohibit the burning of fires in the open or in incinerators by issuing a No-Burn Notice (see section 133 Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997) if it is of the opinion that, because forecast weather conditions, burning is likely to contribute to the build-up of air pollution. 

To find out if a No-Burn notice is in force

  • check the EPA website; or
  • check the Public Notices section of the Sydney Morning Herald. A No-Burn notice will be published in the newspaper on the day it is in force; or
  • call the EPA Environmental Information Line on 131 555.

Are there any exemptions during a Total Fire Ban?

A range of activities may be exempt from Total Fire Bans, such as emergency infrastructure work, bee hive smokers, mining operations, sugar cane harvesting, use of fireworks or ceremonial fires. The NSW RFS Commissioner is responsible for exemptions to Total Fire Bans. These exemptions are detailed in the NSW Government Gazette each time a Total Fire Ban is declared.

How do I apply for a Total Fire Ban exemption?

If you want to light a fire, or carry out any hot works activities during a Total Fire Ban you can check the Government Gazette to see if there is a standard exemption that applies to your situation. If the standard exemptions don't cover your circumstances then you may apply for a specific exemption using our Total Fire Ban exemption application form

You will receive an acknowledgement email upon our receipt of your application however a minimum of seven days processing time is required for us to assess your application.

If approved the NSW RFS will issue an Exemption that contains any conditions that you must follow when lighting the fire or conducting your activity on the total fire ban day.

What penalties are there for lighting a fire during a Total Fire Ban?

Lighting a fire on a day of Total Fire Ban attracts a fine of up to $5500 and/or 12 months gaol. Penalties for a fire that escapes and damages or destroys life, property or the environment can attract much greater fines and gaol terms with maximums at $100,000 and/or 14 years gaol.

Civil law suits can also be brought against the person responsible for a fire by those seeking compensation for losses sustained.

More information

Call your local NSW RFS Fire Control Centre, or local Council for further advice.