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Fire permits

Fire permits are important to make sure that fire is used safely. When you have a permit, it tells you the rules for starting and keeping a fire, and it also informs firefighters when you are burning things on your property.

In NSW, there are two firefighting agencies that deal with bush fires and emergencies in specific areas called Rural Fire Districts and Fire Districts. These groups work together closely to respond to emergencies and support all communities, even if they are in different areas.

Depending on where your property is located within these areas, you can get a Fire Permit for free. If your property is in a Rural Fire District, you can get a permit from the RFS (Rural Fire Service). If it's in a Fire District, you can get a permit from Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW). To get a permit from RFS, contact your local Fire Control Centre. For FRNSW Fire Permits, you can visit the FRNSW website.

Fire permits and the Bush Fire Danger Period

The statutory Bush Fire Danger Period for Rural Fire Districts runs from 1 October to 31 March, however these dates may vary due to local conditions. If you are planning to light a fire in the open during this time, you will need a Fire Permit.

Depending on the type of fire, a permit may be required all year round or only during the Bush Fire Danger Period. For example, a Fire Permit is required at all times if a fire is likely to be dangerous to a building.

Click here to find out if a Fire Permit is required in your area.

It is important to note, that If you live within a FRNSW Fire District, you are required to obtain a Fire Permit all year round.

For more information and to apply for a FRNSW Fire Permit, contact your local fire station using the FRNSW website Fire Permits page.

When are permits required?

A fire permit may be required 12 months of the year or only during the Bush Fire Danger Period, depending on the type of fire and where your property is located.

The permit issuing Officer may add any conditions deemed as necessary but all permits have standard conditions that are listed on the permit form, such as:

  • the permit is to be carried by the permit holder, or another person at all times at the site of the fire.
  • the fire must be supervised at all times.
  • notifications are given to the RFS, FRNSW if required, and adjoining neighbours at least 24 hours prior to the fire being lit and
  • the permit may be varied, cancelled or suspended, depending on weather conditions.

For more information showing where the Bush Fire Danger Period has been declared and permits to burn are currently required for that area see Where Are Fire Permits Not Required?

When are fire permits not required?

Fire permits are NOT required for fires that are lit for the purpose of land clearance or the creation of a fire break during the NON Bush Fire Danger Period within a Rural Fire District.

Additionally, fire permits are not required for fires for the purpose of heating or cooking, provided that the fire is:

  • in a permanently constructed fireplace
  • at a site surrounded by ground that is cleared of all combustible materials for a distance of at least two metres all around
  • completely extinguished before leaving.

For more information on the cancellation or suspension of permits see the Total Fire Bans rules.

What else do I need to do?

Before lighting the fire ensure that:

  • it can be contained and controlled within the specified area
  • it does not contain toxic materials, such as rubber tyres, plastics, paint, etc; and
  • it must not cause an air pollution problem by producing excessive amounts of smoke.

You must also check:

  • whether a No Burn day has been declared
  • whether a Total Fire Ban is in force
  • the expected weather conditions.

Applying for a permit

If in doubt about whether you require a fire permit, or to apply for one, contact your local NSW RFS Fire Control Centre, or NSW Fire and Rescue Brigade station.

Fines and penalties

Substantial fines and prison terms of up to 12 months may apply to persons found to be in breach of The NSW Rural Fires Act 1997 and its regulations.

Civil law suits can also be brought against persons responsible for fire, by those seeking compensation, for losses sustained.

For more information about fines and penalties, or assistance regarding whether you need a fire permit or not, contact your local NSW RFS Fire Control Centre.

Fire permits and Total Fire Bans

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

Total Fire Bans are declared on these days to reduce the risk of fires damaging or destroying life, property and the environment.

Even with a permit, the lighting of fire is prohibited and the permit is automatically suspended, on Total Fire Ban Days or when the Environment Protection Authority declares a NO BURN DAY.

No Burn Notice Days

You can find out if a no Burn Notice Day applies by:

Suspended fire permits may resume after the Total Fire Ban or the No Burn Day is lifted, provided the fire permit has not expired.

However, if a permit is cancelled, a new fire permit must be applied for and obtained prior to undertaking a burn.

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