FireWise communities experience fewer fires and fewer fire-related deaths, injuries and property losses.
We encourage all property owners to review their own properties and we are willing to offer advice on the various alternatives, although the final plan is your responsibility.
Fire can be a useful tool for reducing bush fire hazards, removing rubbish or conducting agricultural activities. The inappropriate use of fire however, can endanger lives, property and the environment.
Property owners carry an important community responsibility to ensure all the area within their property boundaries has been properly prepared for a bushfire and that they have protected their own and their neighbour's properties. They can do this by hand clearing, carrying out hazard reduction activities on their properties before a fire season begins. This can be by slashing bush to lower the fuel loads particularly under trees, removing flammable material, or by controlled burning.
The following guidelines are provided to assist you, the landowner and/or contractor to comply with the conditions required by a notice issued under Section 66 of the Rural Fires Act. By carefully following these simple instructions, your obligation as a member of this community will not only be met, but the balance between bush fire safety and environmental responsibility, will be maintained.
Bulldozing or clearance of the block to bare earth is not acceptable. Unless otherwise specified, all trees covered by Council's Tree Preservation Policy are to be retained. Severe penalties are applicable for acts of environmental degradation. The use of bulldozers, other track type machinery or skid steer loaders is not acceptable except to load logs, stumps and heaps onto trucks for transport to Council garbage tips. Rubber tyred wheel type agricultural tractors with slashers, walk-behind mower slasher, scrub cutters and hand tools are the most satisfactory equipment for clearing on the fragile soil types of the Blue Mountains. Only this type of minimum impact equipment is approved for use.
The understorey vegetation from about 50mm above ground level should be cut, thinned, removed or mulched. Single specimens or groups of plants not exceeding 3 square metres in area may be left in an undisturbed condition provided a break of at least 3 metres is maintained between these islands. By this method both habitat and species diversity will be maintained whilst the overall fire threat will be reduced. Where possible such islands should be located around retained semi-mature trees.
Small saplings and vegetation under the proportions specified by Council's Tree Preservation Policy may be removed, lopped or thinned (preference should be given to smooth barked species when retaining trees). As stated earlier the removal of any tree covered by Council's Tree Preservation Order requires Council inspection and approval.
Cut vegetative material and ground fuel, leaves, bark, twigs, grass tussocks etc. may be mulched and spread over the block to help prevent weed invasion and soil erosion. Such mulch must not exceed 100mm in depth or 50mm square in size. Additional care must be exercised on steep slopes, near watercourses and swamp areas. Once the land has been cleared, no material is to be heaped and left. The work on the block and therefore compliance with any notice issued will not be considered complete until this process has been finalised.
If material is heaped during the clearing process, it must be disposed of by one of the following methods, removal to the local garbage tip or by returning it to the site in the form of mulch. Burning is not recommended and will only be permitted subject to all of the usual restrictions and conditions. Written permission for the use of fire to reduce fuel levels on privately owned land is required in all cases and subject to approval.
In addition to any specific requirements listed under environmental considerations in the notice, all legislation regarding protected and endangered species and pollution control must be complied with.
Should you have any uncertainty regarding your particular property or the requirements of any bush fire notice please contact Blue Mountains Fire Control Centre in Katoomba on 02 4784 7444. Your co-operation is sought in providing a safe and enjoyable environment on the Blue Mountains.
We ask all property owners to review the material on the NSW RFS website to assist you to prepare yourselves and your property.
Various approvals may therefore be required before you light a fire. These approvals contain conditions that seek to minimise possible adverse impacts.
The following information will help you work out which approvals you need before you light your fire.
The Rural Fire Service (RFS ) can provide you with the following approvals (or advise you who to contact):
- Fire Permit - for fire safety; and/or
- Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate - for bush fire hazard reduction works.
- Other government authorities may provide you with other environmental approvals.
You will need information before lighting a fire for hazard reduction on your property.
A great deal of published guidance is available and together with necessary approvals.