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What can't I do during a Total Fire Ban?

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.

Q: Can I use a gas or electric barbecue during a Total Fire Ban?

A:

Gas

You can use a gas barbecue for cooking if it has an enclosed flame and is being used either at your home or in an area set aside for cooking by the authority in charge of the land. All flammable material needs to be cleared five metres away from around the barbecue. Short green grass less than five centimetres in height, paving stones, bricks and reticulated gardens are not considered to be flammable. DFES recommends you check all gas fittings and connections and ensure a garden hose is in reach at all times. You should never leave an active barbecue unattended.

Barbecues with exposed flames cannot be used.

Electric

Yes, you can use an electric barbecue where there is no flame.

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Q: Can I have a campfire, bonfire or light a fire for warmth or comfort during a Total Fire Ban?

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

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

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Q: Can I light a fire to burn off vegetation on my property during a Total Fire Ban?

A: No.

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Q: Can I light a fire in my backyard, such as in a fire pit or a 44 gallon drum during a Total Fire Ban?

A: No

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Q: Can I have a fire in a forest reserve or a National Park Reserve during a Total Fire Ban?

A: No.

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Q: Can I use a barbeque, pizza oven or spit style rotisserie which burns solid fuel during a Total Fire Ban?

A: No. You cannot use any barbecue or cooker that requires solid fuel such as wood or charcoal in the open air. This includes wood fired ovens or stoves, and kettle (Weber) barbecues. Undercover areas such as patios, pergolas and huts which are open or partially open to the weather are deemed to be in the open air.

There are exceptions where the activity is occurring in the course of trade or commerce (i.e. a business) and the conditions prescribed in the Bush Fires Regulations 1954 are met, which includes notifying DFES.

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Q: Can I use a kettle BBQ (Weber) during a Total Fire Ban?

A: No. You cannot use any barbecue or cooker that requires solid fuel such as charcoal in the open air. This includes charcoal kettle barbecues.

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Q: Can I use a chainsaw, brush cutter/whipper snipper, mower or slasher during a Total Fire Ban?

A: This depends on how the equipment you are operating is powered.

Internal Combustion Engine:

The operation of any equipment powered by an internal combustion engine on bush, crop, pasture or stubble is not allowed. There are exceptions where the operation of the equipment is part of an agricultural activity and the local government hasn’t implemented a ban on agricultural activities (Harvest Vehicle Movement Ban) during the Total Fire Ban.

There are further exceptions where the activity is occurring in the course of trade or commerce (i.e. a business) or by (or on behalf of) a public authority, and the conditions prescribed in the Bush Fires Regulations 1954 are met, which includes notifying DFES.

Electric / Battery powered:

You can use equipment or machinery provided it is not powered by an internal combustion engine. However, mowing dry grass, or undertaking other activities that may cause sparks can present a potential fire hazard and should be delayed.

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Q: Can I use an angle grinder, welder, charring, soldering or gas cutting or any other cutting tool outside during a Total Fire Ban?

A: No, the use of a welder or power operated abrasive cutting discs of any kind is not allowed in the open air during a Total Fire Ban due to the risks of sparks starting a fire. This includes grinding, soldering, gas cutting and all other forms of “hot works”.

There are exceptions where the activity is occurring in the course of trade or commerce (i.e. a business); or by (or on behalf of) a public authority and the conditions prescribed in the Bush Fires Regulations 1954 are met, which includes notifying DFES.

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Q: Can I use a grinder or welder inside my shed during a Total Fire Ban?

A: This depends on the type of shed you are working from. You cannot use any tools which may create a spark if your shed has one or more open sides that are exposed to the weather. There is a risk 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. Sparks must not be able to escape through doors and windows.

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

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Can I use power tools during a Total Fire Ban?

A: Yes, as long as the power tool does not create a spark.

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Q: Can I use fireworks during a Total Fire Ban?

A: Only licensed pyro-technicians can use fireworks on a Total Fire Ban day, the conditions prescribed in the Bush Fires Regulations 1954 are required to be met, which includes notifying DFES between 24 hours and 30 minutes before the activity is carried out.

For information about fireworks event permits in general, please contact the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

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Q: Can I smoke cigarettes, cigars, or tobacco during a Total Fire Ban?

A:

Yes, if you dispose of it appropriately. Discarding a burning cigarette, cigar, tobacco or match is considered to be an activity that 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, may receive an infringement of $1,000, or upon conviction receive a penalty of of $25,000 and/or 12 months in jail.

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Q: Can I undertake harvesting activities during a Total Fire Ban?

A: Yes. Agricultural activities can continue during a Total Fire Ban, if the local government has not implemented a ban on agricultural activities by issuing a Harvest Vehicle Movement Ban.

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 which is well maintained AND 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.

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Q: Can I use a gas-powered wildlife scaring gun during a Total Fire Ban?

A: Yes, but only if it is powered by an inert gas.

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Q: Can I drive a vehicle (4WD, motorbike or quad bike) where the vehicle will be in contact with vegetation during a Total Fire Ban?

A: No. During a Total Fire Ban you cannot use a vehicle in bush or a paddock. You can only use a vehicle on a road, track or in an area which has been sufficiently cleared of flammable material.

There are exceptions where the activity is occurring as part of an agricultural activity, if the local government hasn’t implemented a ban on agricultural activities (Harvest Vehicle Movement Ban) during the Total Fire Ban.

There are further exceptions where the activity is occurring in the course of trade or commerce (i.e. a business) or by (or on behalf of) a public authority, and the conditions prescribed in the Bush Fires Regulations 1954 are met, which includes notifying DFES.

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Q: Can I have a BBQ in my local park during a Total Fire Ban?

A: Yes. However, only under strict conditions. There must be a dedicated area set aside by the authority responsible for the park. You can only use an electric 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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Q: Can I use a generator during a Total Fire Ban?

A: You can only use a generator in suburban or built up areas where the area is sufficiently cleared of flammable material to prevent a fire escaping. A petrol-powered generator cannot be used on land on which there is bush, crop, pasture or stubble. There are exceptions where the use of a generator is part of an agricultural activity AND the local government has not implemented a harvest vehicle movement ban (HVMB) during the Total Fire Ban. For further information see https://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/fire/bushfire/Pages/ruralandfarmfire.aspx#harvestvehiclemovementbans

If the use of the generator is part of an agricultural activity, the following conditions must also be met:

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

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

There may be further exceptions where the activity is occurring in the course of trade or commerce (i.e. a business); or by (or on behalf of) a public authority and the conditions prescribed in the Bush Fires Regulations 1954 are met, which includes notifying DFES.

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Q: Can I use equipment and machinery (e.g. bobcats, excavators, bulldozers etc) during a Total Fire Ban?

A: You can only use this equipment and machinery in a suburban or built up areas where the area is sufficiently cleared of flammable material to prevent a fire escaping.

There are exceptions where the activity is occurring as part of an agricultural activity, if the local government hasn’t implemented a ban on agricultural activities (Harvest Vehicle Movement Ban) during the Total Fire Ban.

There are further exceptions where the activity is occurring in the course of trade or commerce (i.e. a business) or (by or on behalf of) a public authority, and the conditions prescribed in the Bush Fires Regulations 1954 are met, which includes notifying DFES.

However, if possible, postpone this activity on a Total Fire Ban declared day to minimise the risk of fire.

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Q: Can I use an incinerator during a Total Fire Ban?

A: No.

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Q: Can I use farm machinery, tractors, slashers, earth-moving, excavating or roadmaking machines during a Total Fire Ban?

A: Only if the activity is being conducted in suburban or built up area where the area is sufficiently cleared of flammable material to prevent a fire escaping. In bush or in areas of crop, pasture or stubble, there are exceptions where the activity is occurring as part of an agricultural activity, if the local government hasn’t implemented a ban on agricultural activities (Harvest Vehicle Movement Ban) during the Total Fire Ban.

There are further exceptions where the activity is occurring in the course of trade or commerce (i.e. a business) or (by or on behalf of) a public authority, and the conditions prescribed in the Bush Fires Regulations 1954 are met, which includes notifying DFES.

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Q: Can I use a hot air balloon during a Total Fire Ban?

A: No.

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Q: Can I operate or move an aeroplane in a paddock during a Total Fire Ban?

A: Conditions apply - in bush or in areas of crop, pasture or stubble, aeroplanes can only be used for agricultural purposes and only if a ban on such activities has not been implemented by the local government (Harvest Vehicle Movement Ban).

You must also ensure:

  • your aeroplane is mechanically sound and the exhaust system is in good condition AND fire suppression resources are available for landing, and a suitable firebreak around the area.

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Q: Can I use blasting equipment or explosives during a Total Fire Ban?

A: Not if it involves using above-ground explosives as this is considered to be an activity that is likely to cause a fire and is not allowed. However, if the activity is being conducted under the ground such as in a drill hole and does not use a lighted fuse then you can use blasting equipment or explosives.

There are exceptions where the activity is occurring in the course of trade or commerce (i.e. a business); or by (or on behalf of) a public authority and the conditions prescribed in the Bush Fires Regulations 1954 are met, which includes notifying DFES.

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Q: Can I use fire during a Total Fire Ban if I have an exemption?

A: Yes. However you must follow conditions in the exemption.

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Q: Are there any exemptions during a Total Fire Ban?

A: Yes. An exemption may be issued by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to enable you to undertake certain activities involving fire during a Total Fire Ban (TFB). However, you must comply with the conditions in the exemption. Further information regarding the Total Fire Ban exemptions can be found here.

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Q: Are there any activities I can carry out if I don’t have a Total Fire Ban exemption?

A: Yes.

Any activity carried out for the purpose of preventing an immediate and serious risk to the health or safety of a person or livestock is permitted providing all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent a bush fire danger.

In addition, agricultural activities, can be carried out during a Total Fire Ban, where the local government has not implemented a ban on agricultural activities (i.e. Harvest Vehicle Movement Ban). However, you must ensure all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent a bushfire starting. In addition, the local government may require a firefighting vehicle to be onsite during harvesting operations.

There are further exceptions - information regarding permitted activities occurring in the course of trade or commerce (i.e. a business); or by (or on behalf of) a public authority and the conditions required to be met as prescribed in the Bush Fires Regulations 1954 (which includes notifying DFES) can be found here.

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Q: How do I apply for a Total Fire Ban exemption?

A: Anyone seeking to apply for an exemption should visit https://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/totalfirebans/Pages/TotalFireBanExemptions.aspx

However, any activity that is carried out for the purpose of preventing an immediate and serious risk to the health or safety of a person or livestock is permitted providing all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent a bushfire danger.

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Q: What penalties are there for ignoring a Total Fire Ban?

A: You could be issued an infringement of $1,000, or upon conviction receive a penalty of $25,000 and/or be jailed for 12 months, if you breach a Total Fire Ban.

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Q: Do we have Total Fire Ban permits?

A: Yes. Individuals or businesses can apply for a Total Fire Ban exemption for activities such as programmed hot fire training; rail grinding; and religious and cultural ceremonies.

Applications should be submitted a minimum of one month prior to commencement of the activity or project where possible.

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Q: Can I use a battery-operated mower/tools during a Total Fire Ban?

A: Yes, however mowing dry grass, or undertaking other activities that may cause sparks can present a potential fire hazard and should be delayed.

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Q: Can you use a bee keeping smoker during a Total Fire Ban?

A: No.

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Q: What should you do if you see someone acting in a manner that contravenes the Total Fire Ban?

A: Report the behaviour to Police, the relevant local government, email regulation.compliance@dfes.wa.gov.au or via the Total Fire Ban Hotline on 1800 709 355.

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Q: Do I need to switch off my electric fences during a Total Fire Ban?

A: On days of extreme fire danger and during Total Fire Bans, it is common practice to switch off electric fences. Electric fences can cause fires when sparks jump from one wire to another in the presence of dry vegetation.

To prevent this from occurring, check electric fences to ensure they are free of wire, grass, weeds and other vegetation. Electric fences should meet the appropriate Australian Standard and be operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s advice.

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