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Prescribed Burning

Can you smell or see smoke?

Sometimes when you smell and see smoke it could mean that a prescribed burn is taking place.

Prescribed burning reduces the amount of ground vegetation during cooler months to decrease risk of bushfires that could cause greater damage later in the season.

Prescribed burning also helps to maintain biodiversity and assists with vegetation management.

Many of Western Australia’s (WA) prescribed burns are managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) Parks and Wildlife service and generally take place from March through to November each year in both urban and rural regional areas.

Locations of prescribed burns and reported private burns can be found on emergency.wa.gov.au or by visiting the Parks and Wildlife prescribed burning page to check if there is a prescribed burn underway near you.

Click here for the DPAW website to check if there is a DPAW prescribed burn underway near you.

Local government and their Bush Fire Brigades may also carry out prescribed burns to reduce bushfire risks. DFES may undertake burns on behalf of agencies such as the Department of Lands and Department of Education.

Click here for a list of prescribed burns being conducted by DFES personnel or volunteer brigades (PDF).

With correct weather conditions, planning and advice, landholders can conduct controlled burns on their land subject to local government laws. This activity is sometimes referred to as Winter Burning in the southern part of WA. You should contact your local shire or council for more information before undertaking a burn at any time of the year.

Current Parks and Wildlife prescribed burns


Your responsibility

With planning and effort the majority of houses in high risk bushfire areas can survive most bushfires. It is your responsibility to reduce risk to you and your home and take actions to survive a bushfire.

If you have a large property you may be required by local government law to install firebreaks and have a fire management plan. If you are not sure if this applies to you contact your local shire or council to find out their requirements.

Vegetation around your property or home such as dry grass, leaves, twigs and bark provide fuel for a fire. If there is a lot of this vegetation it is referred to as a high fuel load.

High fuel loads in a bushfire burn faster and hotter, and destroy more of the environment. If you reduce the amount of fuel around your property, a bushfire will be less likely to impact on your home or other infrastructure.

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Shires, highways and unallocated crown land

There are a number of ways DFES, local government, Parks and Wildlife and other agencies manage vegetation on land that is not privately owned. This includes introducing fire management plans, vegetation management strategies, fire breaks and controlled burning.

These types of prescribed burns are carried out under supervision along road and highway verges, on Unallocated Crown Land and reserves which may be near residential areas.

By reducing fuel loads, prescribed burns help to protect the environment, wildlife, ecosystems, life and property from the impact of future bushfires. The aim is to produce a cool burn that does not damage the foliage of trees.

People do not need to ring triple zero (000) during a controlled burn unless they believe life or property is under threat.

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Pastoral stations and fire management plans

In the Kimberley from April to June prescribed burns can also take place on pastoral stations, often with the aid of helicopters. This is sometimes referred to as aerial controlled burning.

In this region DFES operates a program to assist pastoralists in establishing a fire management plan on their property and provides landholders with special assistance in setting up prescribed burns.

Click here for more information on pastoral land management.

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Winter Burning

Carrying out a prescribed burn during winter can help protect your property during bushfire season.

The heat intensity and spread of a bushfire is determined by the amount of fuel (vegetation) on your property available to burn. If you can reduce the fuel load then a bushfire will burn cooler and slower and will be less likely to impact your home.

  • Hand clearing - raking and removing leaf litter
  • Mechanical-mowing, slashing or pruning vegetation
  • Chemical - using herbicides to remove vegetation
  • Burning excess vegetation

 Fire is a natural part of the Australian environment and prescribed burning is a useful and effective method of reducing fuel loads.

The winter months provide the ideal time and safer conditions for you to use fire to reduce fuel on your forested property.

To obtain a copy of the Winter Burning Guide and DVD email environment@dfes.wa.gov.au or call 08 9395 9573. For further enquiries on all aspects of Bushfire Risk Management please contact the DFES Bushfire Risk Management branch on 9478 8366.

When to burn

The best time to burn is usually between late June and early September as cooler weather conditions create moisture in the vegetation which causes the fire to burn cooler and for a shorter period of time.

Handy hint

Before you plan a winter burn it is a good idea to check the wind speed on the day of your burn. To carry out a prescribed burn the wind speed should ideally be between 12 to 19 kilometres per hour.

Visit the Bureau of Meteorology website.

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