With the 2023 Bushfire Season upon us and total fire bans (TFBs) some already being declared throughout the state, take the opportunity for a quick refresher on total fire bans, and the rules and requirements surrounding them.

The more people know about the risks and rules during extreme fire weather, the better protected our community will be.

  What can and can’t be done during a Total Fire Ban:

There are different rules for the public vs business, industry, public authorities and agriculture (farming).

 Members of the public CANNOT:

 Light a fire including a campfire, wood and charcoal fuelled BBQs/Webers, pizza oven, or to burn garden waste/rubbish etc.

  • Drive off-road over paddocks or bushland or any area where there is vegetation
  • Carry out grinding and welding (hot work) in an area that is not fully enclosed
  • Mow the lawn or use a slasher, or similar, where the equipment is powered by an internal combustion engine

Business and Industry CAN: (as long as they comply with the conditions within the Bushfire Regulations 1954)

  • Hot work (welding, grinding)
  • Road work (grading and bituminising)
  • Off-road activity i.e. operating any equipment or vehicle with an internal combustion engine on land which contains vegetation (mining exploration, electricity companies fault finding, Shire, Town, City slashing verges)
  • Mow lawns as part of a business (off-road activity)
  • Use wood fuelled cooking appliances or cook as part of a catering business, including pizza ovens
  • Blasting
  • Gas Flaring
  • Use fireworks (exemption required)
  • Rail grinding (exemption required)
  • Power restoration (exemption required)

For a full list of TFB frequently asked questions for both the public, and business and industry, please click on the link: https://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/hazard-information/bushfire/total-fire-ban#faqs

Business who plan to carry out any of the above work during a TFB must notify DFES between 24 hours and 30 minutes prior to commencing the work by completing an online form on the DFES website (www.dfes.wa.gov.au ).

What happens when someone breaches a TFB?

The DFES Regulation and Compliance Branch (R&C) review and investigate incidents attended by DFES when a TFB has been declared for an area, to determine if a breach has occurred and what action can be taken. The purpose of the investigation is to identify causes of breaches and mitigate against them through education or infringement depending on the circumstances. R&C may contact the Incident Controller (IC) to confirm or request additional information during their investigation. R&C rely on the information contained within the incident report to conduct the investigations. R&C work in collaboration with local governments, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and WA Police, who also have powers to take action in relation to TFB breaches.

 

What do you need to do if you attend an incident during a TFB?

  • Confirm the incident address is recorded accurately in IRS.
  • Record the name of the person who breached the TFB within the IRS report, if identified.
  • Use the comments section in IRS to capture any additional information not already contained in a standard field within IRS, this information is valuable to investigators both internally and externally.

Need more information?

Please review the current TFB information on the DFES website here.

 

Total Fire Ban links and phone numbers:

 

Total Fire Bans and Harvest and Vehicle Movement Bans – What’s the Difference?

During our hot, dry summer months we all have a shared responsibility to make sure that the chance of a bush fire starting or spreading is minimised. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and the Shire of Lake Grace will put out bans that restrict some activities that may cause fires and it can sometimes be a little tricky to know what you can and can’t do when a ban has been imposed.

Remember that it is your responsibility to check if a fire ban is in place before carrying out any activities that may start a fire.

Total Fire Ban

A Total Fire Ban (TFB) may be declared by DFES on a day when a fire is likely to spread rapidly due to weather conditions, or if there are already other fires in the state and the resources to fight more fires are not available.

A TFB will usually be declared on the afternoon of the day before the ban is imposed. What you CAN NOT do:

In the open air (which includes a shed or under cover area that is not fully enclosed on all sides) you cannot:

  • Light, maintain or use a fire (even when camping)
  • Burn leaves, garden waste or grass cuttings.
  • Grind, weld, solder, gas cut or use any other type of ‘hot work’.
  • Use fireworks.
  • Operate a hot-air balloon.
  • Use an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven or solid fuel BBQ.

In any area where there is bush, crops, pasture or stubble you cannot use equipment powered by an internal combustion engine, such as:

  • Lawn mower, chainsaw or grass trimmer.
  • Bobcat, excavators, bulldozers etc. (for commercial operators, please see TFB Exceptions below)
  • Generator.
  • Car, motorbike, quad bike, dune buggy.
  • Tractor (for permitted agricultural activities please see more information under HVMB below)

If you conduct any of these activities, you must make sure that:

  • Your vehicle is mechanically sound.
  • The exhaust system is in good condition, free of gas leaks and/or has a well-maintained spark arrester.
  • All reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent a bush fire starting.

    More Information on Total Fire Bans

    For more information about TFBs, and to check if a TFB is in place for your region:

    Harvest & Vehicle Movement Ban

    The Shire may declare a Harvest & Vehicle Movement Ban (HVMB) for its district, or areas within its district, during the prohibited or restricted burning times if a Bush Fire Control Officer decides (based on a set of predetermined weather conditions) that the use of any engines, vehicles, plant or machinery is likely to cause a or spread a bush fire.

    What you CAN NOT do:

    • Harvest your crop (all harvesting activities must stop immediately)
    • Drive a vehicle with an internal combustion engine across paddocks that are in crop or stubble (including tractors and harvesting equipment).
    • Drive a vehicle (with an internal combustion engine) in the bush.
    • This includes motor cycles and quad bikes.

    What you CAN do:

    • Drive a vehicle or equipment on gazetted roads and laneways (provided it has a trafficable surface, is at least 4 metres wide, cleared of all inflammable materials with overhanging vegetation pruned so as not to touch the vehicle).

    Permitted Agricultural Activities:

    You can still carry out the following agricultural activities during a HVMB, if you are accompanied by a mobile firefighting unit (carrying a minimum of 600 litres of water):

    • Cart water for stock and domestic purposes;
    • travel to, from and within piggeries and feed lots;
    • carry out all necessary carting of livestock.

    More Information on HVMBs

    For more information about HVMBs, and to check if a ban is in place for your area:

    • Call the Shire of Lake Grace HVMB Hotline on 9487 7191
    • Listen to ABC local radio
    • Call the Shire of Lake Grace on 9890 2500 to sign up for our free HVMB SMS service
    • Visit the Shire of Lake Grace website https://lakegrace.wa.gov.au/

    Fire Zones (Harvest Ban Zones) - please click below to view maps: