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 and Camp Fires

It is possible to light an open fire for recreational purposes, such as a BBQ 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 BBQ provided you meet safety requirements. Contact the NSW Rural Fire Service for information on the Fire Danger Rating.

For information on the laws that apply here, see the Protection of the Environment Operation (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 (Part 12: Offences)

Burning Off and Lighting Fires

Fires endanger lives, health, property and the environment. If you want to burn off or light a recreational fire, there are strict rules in place.

Approval to burn dead & dry vegetation

Manning Region Only:

If you live in a residential area you are not allowed to burn.

Until recently, if you lived in a rural or rural residential area you were required to complete an application to Council for approval to burn and were charged a fee. 

You are now permitted to burn (without an application or fee) 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 if you are in a rural residential area

  • 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. 

Great Lakes Region Only:

Vegetation can only be burnt following approval from Council. You will need to complete the Application Form or contact us.

Permits are required by the Rural Fire Service within the Statutory Fire Danger Period (usually 1 October - 31st March each year).  

For further information refer to our Open Burning fact sheet(PDF, 33KB).

Burning Rubbish

Burning rubbish and waste material is illegal in the MidCoast Council region, even in incinerators.  This smoke causes air pollution, and if not controlled, may even cause bushfires. These fires endanger lives, health, property and the environment.

For information on the laws that apply here, see the Protection of the Environment Operation (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 (Part 12: Offences)

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 Woodsmoke Reduction Program .