Bush fire danger period extended

Despite the recent rainfall across much of the region, the Bush Fire Danger Period has been extended until the end of April in the Rural Fire Service Cudgegong District which covers most of the Mid-Western Regional Council area.

“It’s still too dry in many parts of our region for the Bush Fire Danger Period to end as usual on the last day of March,” said Cudgegong District Superintendent Troy Porter.

“The rains of mid-March have been very uneven, with good falls in places like Gulgong and Pyramul but little or no rain in other areas such as Kandos. In addition, we have paddocks and bushland right across the District full of dried out vegetation that poses a significant continuing fire risk. This vegetation will remain tinder-dry no matter how much rain we have.

“We expect to see a number of warm, dry days before the autumn gives us cooler weather and a reduced risk of fire,” Superintendent Porter said.

“Under these conditions it is better to be safe and extend the Bush Fire Danger Period for an extra month.”

During the Bush Fire Danger Period residents are required to obtain Fire Permits from the RFS and observe a number of other rules concerning outdoor fires. Lighting up without a permit can result in substantial fines.

“Just because it’s the Bush Fire Danger Period doesn’t mean you can’t use fire, but there are restriction to ensure fire is used safely and to minimize the danger to you, your family, your property and the community,” Superintendent Porter said.

“Getting a permit is free and easy. Just contact the Cudgegong Fire Control Centre on (02) 6372 4434 and we can organize your permit. But remember, there are heavy penalties if you fail to follow restrictions and rules.”

Fire Permits are required during the Bush Fire Danger Period for most fires that are lit outdoors. This includes fires used for land clearing and the creation of fire breaks. With all such fires you should notify the Fire Control Centre and your neighbours 24 hours in advance of lighting up.

This kind of notification helps prevent the inconvenience and risk of sending our RFS volunteers out on fire calls when there is really no cause for alarm. Permits are not required for a heating or cooking fire provided it 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 and has a supply of water available.

You must completely extinguish such fires before leaving the site. Before lighting a fire you should ensure that it can be contained and controlled within the specified area.

You should also check the RFS website (www.rfs.nsw.gov.au) for whether a Total Fire Ban is in force for your area and the EPA website for whether a No Burn day has been declared for environmental reasons.

For more information contact the Cudgegong Fire Control Centre on (02) 6372 0683.

The key things to remember

You need a fire permit if it's the Bush Fire Danger Period. 

Just because it's the Bush Fire Danger Period doesn't mean you can't use fire - but there are restrictions to ensure fire is used safely.

Getting a permit is free and easy. Contact your local Fire Control Centre.

There are heavy penalties if you don't follow restrictions or rules.

Please note that other restrictions, approvals and/or permits may apply to council areas where the Bush Fire Danger Period has not been declared. For example, backyard burning is not permitted in many suburban areas due to Environmental Regulations and Council or Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) permission is required.

Check these guides for more information on permits and reducing hazards on your property:

Before You Light That Fire - information on permits and steps you need to take before using fire on your property

Can I or Can't I - a simple guide to restrictions such as during Total Fire Bans

What is a Fire Permit?  

Fire Permits help ensure fire is used safely during the Bush Fire Danger Period. A permit imposes conditions on the way a fire is lit and maintained, and can only be issued by authorised Permit Issuing Officers. 

The permit system ensures agencies like the NSW RFS know when and where landholders intend to burn, to ensure adequate and appropriate measures are in place, and so that fires remain under control. 

To carry out a Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Burn, you may need: 

  • a Fire Permit and/or
  • an Environmental Approval such as a Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate. You must gain this before applying for a Fire Permit.
  • The Permit Issuing Officer may add any conditions deemed as necessary but all permits have standard conditions that, such as: 
  • the permit is to be carried by the permit holder, on site, at the time the fire is lit
  • the permit is to remain on site with those present until extinguished, if applicable
  • the fire must be supervised at all times unless the permit says otherwise
  • notifications are given to the NSW RFS, and adjoining neighbours at least 24 hours (unless specified otherwise) prior to the fire being lit and
  • the permit may be varied, cancelled or suspended, depending on 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 Fire and Rescue NSW 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 Rural Fires Act 1997 and its Regulations. 

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

More information

Read our guide Before You Light That Fire for more information about Fire Permits.

You can also check our Can I or Can't I fact sheets to find out what restrictions are in place in your area.

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 or rfs.nsw.gov.au