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What can't I do on a Total Fire Ban day?

During a Total Fire Ban you are not allowed to light, maintain or use a fire in the open air, or to carry out any activity in the open air that causes, or is likely to cause, a fire.

Some common questions are below.

 

Can I use my BBQ?

This depends on what type of BBQ or cooker you have, and where it is located.

During a Total Fire Ban (TFB) you cannot light or use a fire in the open air.

Undercover areas such as patios, pergolas and huts that are open or partially open to the weather are deemed to be in the open air.

Solid fuel

No. You cannot use any BBQ or cooker that requires solid fuel such as wood or charcoal. This includes wood fired ovens or stoves, and Weber like BBQs.

Gas

Yes. You can use a gas BBQ for cooking if it has an enclosed flame and all flammable material is cleared five metres away from around your BBQ.

Short green grass less than five centimetres in height, paving stones, bricks and reticulated gardens are not considered to be flammable.

DFES recommends that you check all gas fittings and connections and ensure a garden hose is in reach at all times. You should never leave an active BBQ unattended.

BBQs with exposed flames cannot be used.

Electric

Yes. You can use an electric BBQ where there is no flame.

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What if I don't have a five metre buffer zone for my BBQ?

In residential areas where there is not enough space to create a five metre buffer, due to a fence or building, you must:

  • Ensure the area around your BBQ is free from flammable material.
  • Ensure no burning or hot material escapes this area.
  • Be in reach of a garden hose.

Short green grass less than five centimetres in height, paving stones, bricks and reticulated gardens are not considered to be flammable.

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Can I have a BBQ in my local park?

Yes. But only under strict conditions.

There must be a dedicated area set aside by the state authority or local government responsible for the park.

You can only use an electric appliance or gas appliance that has an enclosed flame.

All flammable material must be cleared five metres around the appliance.

Short green grass less than five centimetres in height, paving stones, bricks and reticulated gardens are not considered to be flammable.

You cannot burn solid fuels such as wood or charcoal in the open air.

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Can I use my wood fired pizza oven?

No. You cannot burn solid fuels such as wood or charcoal in the open air. This includes outdoor wood fired pizza ovens.

Undercover areas such as patios, pergolas and huts that are open or partially open to the weather are deemed to be in the open air.

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Can I use a chainsaw, plant or grass trimmer, or lawn mower? 

Yes. These activities can be undertaken in suburban or built up areas which are cleared of flammable material, but not in bushland or other areas where their use is likely to cause fire.

The following conditions must also be met:

  • You must ensure the equipment or machinery is mechanically sound.
  • You must take all reasonable precautions to prevent a bushfire starting.

However, if possible postpone this activity altogether to minimise the risk of fire.

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Can I use a generator?

Yes. A generator can be used in suburban or built up areas which are cleared of flammable material, but not in bushland or other areas where their use is likely to cause fire.

The following conditions must also be met:

  • You must ensure the equipment or machinery is mechanically sound.
  • You must take all reasonable precautions to prevent a bushfire starting.

However, if possible postpone this activity altogether to minimise the risk of fire.

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Can I use equipment and machinery (e.g. bobcats, excavators, bulldozers etc)?

Yes. Their use is permitted in suburban or built up areas where the area is sufficiently cleared of flammable material to prevent a fire escaping.

In bush or in areas of crop, pasture or stubble, equipment and machinery can only be used for agricultural purposes and only if a Harvest and Vehicle Movement Ban has not been implemented by your local government.

The following conditions must also be met:

  • You must ensure the equipment or machinery is mechanically sound.
  • You must take all reasonable precautions to prevent a bushfire starting.

However, if possible, postpone this activity altogether to minimise the risk of fire.

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Can I do grinding, welding, or other forms of "hot works" in the open air?

No. You cannot use a welder or power operated abrasive cutting discs of any kind in the open air due to the risks of sparks starting a fire. This includes grinding, soldering, gas cutting and all other forms of “hot works”.

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Can I use a grinder, welder or power tools inside my shed?

Maybe. This depends on the type of shed you are working from. You cannot use any of these if your shed has one or more open sides that are exposed to the weather. There is a risk that winds can blow sparks, which may then ignite flammable material.

You can use these tools inside your shed if it is fully enclosed on all sides and has a door and roof to prevent sparks from escaping.

Please be aware of general safety risks when working in enclosed spaces, including the risk of fumes.

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Can I burn leaves, garden waste and grass cuttings, or use an incinerator?

No. During a Total Fire Ban it is illegal to:

  • Light, maintain or use a fire in the open air.
  • Carry out any activity that causes or is likely to cause a fire in the open air.

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Can I light a camp fire?

No. During a TFB it is illegal to:

  • Light, maintain or use a fire in the open air.
  • Carry out any activity that causes or is likely to cause a fire in the open air.

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Can I drive a 4WD offroad (e.g. through bushland) for recreational purposes?

No. During a Total Fire Ban you cannot use a vehicle in bush or a paddock, unless it is for agricultural purposes.

You can only use a vehicle on a road, track or in an area that has been sufficiently cleared of flammable material.

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Can I ride my motorbike, motocross bike or quad bike through bush or in a paddock?

No. During a Total Fire Ban you cannot use a vehicle in bush or a paddock, unless it is for agricultural purposes.

You can only use a vehicle on a road, track or in an area that has been sufficiently cleared of flammable material.

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Can I use fireworks?

No. Any activity that causes or is likely to cause a fire in the open air is banned.

Licensed pyrotechnics should seek further advice from DFES. For information about fireworks event permits in general, please contact the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

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Can I use a hot air balloon?

No. Any activity that causes or is likely to cause a fire in the open air is banned.

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Can I feed or water my stock in a paddock?

Yes. Agricultural activities can continue during a Total Fire Ban, as long as a Harvest and Vehicle Movement Ban has not been implemented by your local government.

If a Harvest and Vehicle Movement Ban has been implemented, the immediate welfare of animals, such as urgent feeding and watering of stock has an automatic exemption.

However:

  • You must ensure your vehicle is mechanically sound and the exhaust system is in good condition, free of gas leaks and has a spark arrester that is well maintained.
  • You must ensure all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent a bushfire starting.

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Can I harvest my crop?

Yes. Agricultural activities can continue during a Total Fire Ban, as long as a Harvest and Vehicle Movement Ban has not been implemented by your local government.

However:

  • You must ensure your vehicle is mechanically sound and the exhaust system is in good condition, free of gas leaks and has a spark arrester that is well maintained.
  • You must ensure all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent a bushfire starting.

In addition, your local government may require a firefighting vehicle to be onsite during harvesting operations.

Click here for information on safe harvesting practices.

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Can I operate or move an aeroplane in a paddock?

Yes. As long as a Harvest and Vehicle Movement Ban has not been implemented by your local government.

However:

  • You must ensure your vehicle is mechanically sound and the exhaust system is in good condition, free of gas leaks and has a spark arrester that is well maintained.
  • You must ensure all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent a bushfire starting.
  • You must have a fire extinguisher and at least 150 litres of water in a suitable container at the landing site.
  • There must be a fire break around the landing area to the size required by your local government.

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Can I use blasting equipment or explosives?

No. Any activity that causes or is likely to cause a fire in the open air is banned.

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Cigarettes, cigars, tobacco and matches

Discarding a burning cigarette, cigar, tobacco or match is considered to be an activity that causes, or is likely to cause, a fire.

Under the Bush Fires Act 1954, inappropriate disposal of a burning cigarette, cigar, tobacco or match during the Restricted and Prohibited Burning Times attracts a penalty of $5,000.

During a Total Fire Ban, any person who disposes of burning tobacco, or a burning cigarette, cigar or match in circumstances that is likely to set fire to the bush, including by throwing it from a vehicle, could face a fine of $25,000 and/or 12 months in jail.

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