Bushfire Risk & Burning Off

If you are concerned about a bush fire hazard on your property or an adjoining property, you need to contact the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS).


BBQ, Camp Fires and Fires for Recreational Purposes

It is possible to light an open fire for recreational purposes, such as a barbecue or camping with permission of the land owner.

Before you light any camp fire, you should check the Fire Danger Rating to understand potential bush fire risk. If a Total Fire Ban is in place, you can’t light any fires, but you can use a gas or electric barbecue provided you meet safety requirements. Contact the NSW Rural Fire Service for information on the Fire Danger Rating.

If the Fire Danger Rating is safe then you can have a fire for the purpose of cooking, barbecuing or recreational purposes such as camping, picnicking, scouting or other similar outdoor activities. However your fire must not impact on the amenity of the local area or create a smoke hazard. You must also comply with the Protection of the Environment Operation (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 (Part 12: Offences).

If it is safe to have a fire for barbecue or recreational purposes, you must comply with the following restrictions:

To light and maintain the fire use only:

  • dry seasoned wood
  • liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
  • natural gas or proprietary barbecue fuel (including a small quantity of fire starter)
  • the fire must not have an impact on any person


Burning Off and Lighting Fires

Fires endanger lives, health, property and the environment. If you want to burn dead and dry vegetation, there are strict rules in place.

Burning dead & dry vegetation

Manning Region Only:

Residents living in a residential / urban area are NOT allowed to burn.

If you live in the Manning Region and your property is zoned Rural or Rural Residential you are permitted (without an application) to burn dead and dry vegetation, if you abide by the following conditions:  

  • Only burn dead and dry vegetation that has grown on the property

  • Ensure a responsible adult is in attendance at all times 

  • Notify your Local Rural Fire Brigade Captain and the Taree Fire Control Centre (02) 6591 2900 a minimum of 24 hours prior to lighting a fire

  • Notify all adjoining neighbours a minimum of 24 hours before the lighting of a fire

  • Ensure the fire is only lit when prevailing weather conditions are favourable so your neighbours are not adversely affected, and to have minimal impact on air quality and amenity.

  • Ensure the pile size for burning is not greater than 2 metres in diameter and 1.5 metres high

  • Comply with any of the NSW Rural Fire Services Fire Restrictions. Should fire restrictions be introduced under the Rural Fires Act during the period you wish to burn, you will be required to comply with the fire restrictions in place at the time, and in addition, obtain a Fire Permit from the NSW Rural Fire Service. 

  • You cannot burn any other items in this area eg household waste.

Great Lakes Region Only:

Residents living in a residential / urban area are NOT allowed to burn.

If you live in the Great Lakes Region and your property is zoned Rural or Rural Residential with an area of less than 8,000m2, dead and dry vegetation can only be burnt following approval from Council. You need to complete and submit an Application Form and contact us.

For further information refer to our Open Burning fact sheet(PDF, 141KB).

If your property is zoned Rural or Rural Residential with an area of greater than 8,000m2, then you are exempt from the approval process but must abide by the following conditions:

  • Only burn dead and dry vegetation that has grown on the property

  • Ensure a responsible adult is in attendance at all times 

  • Notify your Local Rural Fire Brigade Captain and the Taree Fire Control Centre (02) 6591 2900 a minimum of 24 hours prior to lighting a fire

  • Notify all adjoining neighbours a minimum of 24 hours before the lighting of a fire

  • Ensure the fire is only lit when prevailing weather conditions are favourable so your neighbours are not adversely affected, and to have minimal impact on air quality and amenity.

  • Ensure the pile size for burning is not greater than 2 metres in diameter and 1.5 metres high

  • Comply with any of the NSW Rural Fire Services Fire Restrictions. Should fire restrictions be introduced under the Rural Fires Act during the period you wish to burn, you will be required to comply with the fire restrictions in place at the time, and in addition, obtain a Fire Permit from the NSW Rural Fire Service. 

  • Ensure you have access to water for fire fighting purposes.

Gloucester Region Only:

If you live the Gloucester region, you do not need approval to burn dead and dry vegetation however you must take all practicable means to prevent or minimise air pollution.

Means of preventing or minimising air pollution may include the following:

  1. taking into account the potential for smoke impacting on any person having regard to:
    • wind direction;
    • weather conditions; and
    • the length of time that the material being burnt is likely to burn
  2. taking reasonable measures to ensure that the material being burnt is not wet
  3. burning only material that is suitable for disposal by burning, having regard to possible effects on human health and the environment.
Burning of Prohibited Articles

The burning of the following articles are prohibited and should not be burnt under any circumstances:

  • Tyres
  • Coated wire
  • Paint containers and residues
  • Solvent containers and residues
  • Timber treated with copper chromium arsenate (CCA) or pentachlorophenol (PCP)
  • Plastic or other toxic materials, or items with plastic or toxic components
Burning Exemptions

Protection of the Environment Operation (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 makes provision for controlled burning in the following circumstances without Council approval (refer to the Regulation for full details):

  • to burn vegetation, in the course of carrying on agricultural operations, on premises on which the vegetation grew
  • to burn anything for the purposes of the giving of instruction in methods of fire fighting
  • to burn anything under the authority of, and in accordance with, a bush fire hazard reduction certificate issued under the Rural Fires Act 1997.
Enforcement Action & Penalties

Please be aware that failure to comply with Council requirements and/or the Protection of the Environment (Clean Air) Regulations (2010) can result in Council issuing Penalty Infringement Notices and Prevention Notices under Protection of the Environmental Operations Act (1997). 



Fire Mitigation Plans

There are currently 10 plans that cover the requirements for specific areas within the Great Lakes region:



Reducing Bushfire Risk

Managing bushland reserves to minimise the threat of fire is an ongoing responsibility of Council.

We are only able to manage fire risk on properties we own or manage. Concerns regarding all privately owned land needs to be referred to the Rural Fire Service.

Private residents can help reduce the threat of fire to their property by reducing hazards within their boundaries. This needs to be carried out whilst still complying with Chapter 12 -Tree Preservation in The Great Lakes Region Development Control Plan (DCP) 2013

For advice on how to reduce the fire risk on your property, you should contact the Rural Fire Service.

If we consider that a particular reserve has a high fire risk, we are able to use a series of protection strategies. A common option is to create an Asset Protection Zone (APZ).  These are like "buffer zones" between the fire threat and the neighbouring property. To create an APZ, the land owner or manager needs to conduct a detailed environmental assessment of the area.

To manage an Asset Protection Zone, Council always needs cooperation from the neighbouring properties. For example, garden waste dumping and storage of flammable materials in surrounding gardens will reduce the effectiveness of the APZ, and may increase risk and hinder fire fighting access.

Please be aware that the establishment of an Asset Protection Zone near your property doesn't replace your own responsibility to keep your property 'bush fire ready'.



Wood Smoke Pollution

During the winter, the smoke from domestic wood heaters causes a lot of air pollution.  Wood smoke pollution affects everyone.  It is bad for your health and the health of others in your community.

To prevent wood smoke pollution:    

  • Only burn dry wood.    
  • Never let your heater smoulder for long periods. Keep the flame lively and bright.    
  • Check to see if your chimney is smoking and have your chimney cleaned every year.

Council Officers have the power to issue smoke abatement notices and on-the-spot fines of $200 to occupiers that allow excessive smoke to be emitted from chimneys in residential homes. 

A smoke abatement notice directs a householder to make necessary improvements, maintenance or repairs to ensure that excessive smoke is not emitted from their chimneys.

Excessive Smoke is basically when the smoke is in a visible plume which is at least 10 metres long.

Common causes of excessive smoke:    

  • Insufficient kindling.
  • Too much firewood in the heater.
  • Turning the air control to "slow burn" too soon after light-up or refuelling.
  • Trying to burn a single large log.
  • Adding firewood without opening the air control.
  • Incorrectly placed log which blocks the air supply to the base of the fire.
  • Use of wood that is too wet. 
  • Installation or maintenance problems.

For further information call Council's Environmental Health Officer or visit the wood smoke reduction program.

The EPA also provides information about risks and health effects of wood smoke: Wood Smoke Isn't Good Smoke.