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)

What you CAN do:

You CAN use a gas or electric BBQ or cooker, if:

  • It has an enclosed flame
  • It’s at or in your home
  • You clear all material that could burn within a 5m radius around it.
  • It’s a permanent BBQ in a public picnic area
  • You use it in a public space within the sign posted BBQ area

If you’re a farmer, you can (unless a HVMB has also been declared):

  • Harvest your crop.
  • Feed or water your stock in a paddock.
  • Operate or move an aeroplane or a helicopter.

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.

TFB Exceptions:

Industry, business and public authorities are able to carry out certain activities without applying to DFES for an exemption. Under changes to the Bush Fire Regulations 1954 the activities that are now permitted (by business or public authorities only – not private individuals) include the following:

  • Road works.
  • Catering activities.
  • Blasting and fireworks.

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 ).

More Information on TFBs

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: