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Campfire Safety

An open campfire is often an enjoyable part of camping but if it is not constructed, used and extinguished correctly it can also easily cause a bushfire.

When you are hiking or camping it’s important to carry a portable AM/FM radio with you and listen for information and remain alert for any signs of smoke or fire.

If a fire starts and it’s too late to leave, avoid seeking refuge near trees, scrub, long grass and leaves instead try to find shelter in a solid structure if possible to help block radiant heat.

Before you light a fire:

  • To reduce a fire risks always check the weather conditions in your camping area
  • Do not light or maintain a campfire on dry, windy days
  • Do no light or maintain a campfire when the Fire Danger Rating (FDR) is very high, severe, extreme or catastrophic
  • Do not light a campfire during a Total Fire Ban (TFB). When a TFB is declared it is illegal to do anything that is likely to start a fire which includes cooking outside using an open fire. You could be fined up to $25,000 or jailed for 12 months or both if you ignore the TFB

Tips for building your campfire safely:

  • Camp in a safe location that is clear of flammable vegetation such as long grass and spinifex
  • Use a built fireplace where provided or dig a 30 centimetre deep trench to house the fire and prevent embers from flying out
  • Create a border around the fire using large rocks
  • Light the campfire in a cleared area. Remove branches, leaves and twigs from the ground and above the flames to create a clearing of three metres around the fire
  • Ensure the fire is three metres away from tents and other camping equipment is stored well away, especially flammable items such as gas cylinders and fuel cans
  • Never use flammable liquid or fuel such as petrol or diesel on a fire even when you are trying to get it started
  • You should take the same safety precautions when using appliances with naked flames such as gas stoves and gas lanterns, as they can be blown over by wind and cause a fire
This diagram shows that your fire should be three metres
from anything that could catch fire


Looking after your campfire:

  • Keep your fire just big enough for cooking and keeping warm
  • Never leave your fire unattended, not even for a minute. Put your fire out properly with water not soil, even if going for a short walk or swim
  • Extinguish your fire at night. Many children are burnt by campfires in the morning from hot ashes and embers
  • Children and pets should be supervised at all times when near a fire
  • Use only fallen dead wood. Branches or leaves from living trees damages the environment and can cause high levels of smoke
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby

Putting your campfire out:

  • Make sure your fire is completely extinguished using water
  • Do not use soil. Fires can still smoulder under soil and can stay hot for more than eight hours. This is a danger to anyone walking in the area once you have gone

Basic campfire safety:

  • Do not burn dangerous or flammable items, such as aerosol cans as they can explode
  • Cans and other aluminium products do not burn
  • Never put glass in your campfire as it will melt and shatter or explode hitting people nearby
  • Never put unopened tins of food on a fire to cook as they may explode and cause injuries
  • Call Triple Zero (000) to report a fire