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Important information concerning the interpretations of legislation and other policies is contained in this page. It is recommended that the Disclaimer be read in conjunction with the information provided.
Burning is an issue that concerns people for a number of reasons. Protecting property and ensuring personal safety are paramount at times of bushfire while air pollution and the health risks associated with wood smoke can be a problem at any time. Property owners need to take responsible action to help prevent fire risks and steps can be taken to ensure good air quality is maintained.
In Break O'Day Council the regulations regarding outside burning are contained within the following by-law By-Law # 4 Control of Outside Burning click here to download the file (261 kb).
What legislation regulates burning?
The Fire Service Act 1979 regulates the use of fires in the open air where these fires may impact on community safety should they burn out of control.
The General Fire Regulations 2000, outline precautions and equipment necessary for fire safety in buildings with public access. For further information on this topic, the Tasmania Fire Service (PDF doc 133 KB) has developed a booklet that summarises the obligations of owners and occupiers of these buildings.
Smoke from fires can be a nuisance or worse and is subject to regulation under a number of Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 and the Local Government Act 1993. Under the regulations of the Building Act 2000, waste from building activities or on building sites must not cause a nuisance.
What is a total fire ban?
A total fire ban is a ban on any fire in the open air, other than a built-in gas barbecue, as well as a ban on using any equipment in the open air that emits naked flames or sparks. A total fire ban is declared when bushfires are likely to be difficult or impossible to control, usually in summer between the months of November and March. For more information on total fire bans see the Tasmania Fire Service website.
Can I use a backyard incinerator?
Council regulations regarding backyard incinerators vary throughout Tasmania. Many councils are banning their use due to the air pollution they create. Smoke can aggravate an existing respiratory aliment such as asthma and bronchitis or increase the risk of respiratory problems.
Break O'Day Council allows backyard burning on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month, for fires less than one cubic metre in size, as long as there is no fire ban in place.
Restricting the use of the backyard incinerator, the wood heater and open air burning helps keep the air clean and prevent smoke and smog pollution.
There are a number of measures that can be taken to minimise problems:
- Use grass/leaves etc on the compost heap instead of burning it
- Consider your neighbours (if wind direction should blow smoke away from homes and washing)
- Notify adjoining property owners (say 2 hours before intending to burn)
- Light only one fire in the open air at any one time
- Supervise by an adult at all times and don't leave unattended
- Take precautions to prevent the fire from sparking and spreading (eg have hoses, water tanks close by)
- Advise the local fire service of burning off
- Don't burn toxic materials. Items that should not be burnt include batteries, tyres, plastic, rubber, painted treated timber, glues, aerosol cans etc)
Remember, any damage caused by an escaping fire is the responsibility of the person who lit the fire.
What can I do to protect my house in a bushfire?
The Tasmania Fire Service website contains valuable information on what home owners can do to protect their property in times of bushfire.
Can I join the local fire brigade?
Local brigades are made up of men and women who serve as volunteers. They can serve either as operational fire fighters i.e. who deal with bushfires, house fires, motor vehicle accidents etc., or as support members who look after areas such as fundraising, communications and administration, or equipment maintenance. The Tasmania Fire Service website has more information on what volunteers do and how you can get involved.