Blaze at Bogangar last weekend.
Blaze at Bogangar last weekend.

What kind of BBQ you can't have today: fire ban explained

A TOTAL fire ban is in place until midnight at Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed local government areas.

Far North Coast Rural Fire Service Inspector Angela Daly said the 24-hour ban was in place to due to a heatwave.

"We have very high temperatures today in the mid-30s, we have winds picking up from north west at 30 - 35 km/hr and low humidity," Insp Daly said.

Police say 100 hectare fire at Bogangar was deliberately lit

"It's also very dry so all those things combine to make it necessary for a total fire ban.

"A total fire ban is in place from midnight to midnight for a one day period, it just means there's no fires to be lit in the open

"Any permit that residents or land owners may have are fully suspended.

"The ban also includes solid fuel barbeque, including charcoal, wood or heat bead BBQs."

Inspector Daly said residents should look out for spot fires, report them to 000 and keep an eye out for anyone acting suspiciously around those fires.

Police are investigating a series of deliberately lit fires on the far north coast, with a 100 hectare fire at Bogangar last Saturday the last suspicious fire in the region. 

"It is a concern for us, especially on a day like today with the weather so hot.

"We're asking people to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity," Inspector Daly said.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is expected to be around the 20 degree mark with no fire ban, but if that prediction changes a fire ban will be put in place after 5pm today.

Fines for having a fire today go from $5,000 to $100,000 or 14 years imprisonment.

Lighting a fire today attracts an on the spot fine of $2200.

If the matter goes to court, you could be subject to 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 $132,000 and or 14 years gaol.

Stay up to date here: 

Total Fire Ban rules

A total fire ban means no fires out in the open. A total fire ban helps limit the potential of fires developing.

During 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 welding or gas cutting can be done in the open.

The NSW RFS strongly recommends you reconsider activities such as such using a tractor or slashing, to help reduce the chance of a fire starting on your property. Under certain conditions, the NSW RFS may issue a Cease Harvest request.

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?
Permits are suspended on days of total fire ban. Permits may resume after the total fire ban is lifted, as long as the permit hasn't expired.
More information on permits can be found on our 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.
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. 

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 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.

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

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