Fire permits

Fire permits (permits) are required under section 124 of the Emergencies Act 2004 for the lighting or use of fire, in the open air during the declared bushfire danger period (official bushfire season).

The aim of the fire permit system is to ensure the appropriate measures are put in place so that fire is used safely.

A permit imposes conditions on the way a fire is lit and maintained, and can only be issued by authorised Permit Issuing Officers.

If you live in the suburbs or city area you can apply for a permit by contacting the ACT Fire & Rescue (ACTF&R) on 02 6207 8363 .

If you live in the rural or country areas, outside the suburbs or city of Canberra, you will need to contact the ACT Rural Fire Service (ACTRFS) to apply for a permit on 6207 8609 or send an email request on or . Please understand that it takes time to process a request for a permit so you should allow at least 5 working days for the process to take place.

Frequently asked questions about fire permits

When are permits required?

Permits are required during the declared bushfire danger period. This generally runs from 1st October to 31st of March each year, but may be extended or shortened depending on the prevailing weather conditions.

Why are permits necessary?

Permits allow the ACTRFS and ACTF&R to know the location of legal burns at any given time. If a call to a fire is received in the locality of the permit burn it is a simple matter to verify if the call is an actual fire or a legal permit burn.

Permits will also contain conditions to increase the safety of the fire. You may only be allowed to burn during specified weather parameters and with certain equipment/personnel available.

Despite a Permit being issue you will still need to notify the ACTRFS and your neighbours 24 hours prior to lighting your fire.

What can be burnt?

Permits are required for all fire in the open air during the declared bushfire danger period.

They can be issued for the burning of any material for a range of purposes, however primarily they are available for the elimination of fuels which are considered a fire hazard, windrows after clearing and also some burning to conserve biological diversity or ecological integrity.

The ACTF&R and ACTRFS discourages the use of fire in place of mowing or other practical alternatives.

Am I allowed to have a barbecue without a permit?

If a Total Fire Ban is in force, No barbeques are to be used in the open air.

If a total fire ban is not in force, the following rules apply during the prescribed bushfire season:

Electric or gas barbecues

A Fire Permit is not required for Electric or gas barbecues and are allowed as long as they are under the constant supervision of a responsible adult.

Fire places provided on unleased Territory or Commonwealth land using Solid Fuel

A Fire Permit is not required and a barbeque is allowed in fire places provided on unleased Territory or Commonwealth land using Solid Fuel (e.g. Wood etc)

Barbeque on Residential Land

A Fire Permit is not required for a barbeque on Residential Land for heating or to cook food or heat liquids and is allowed as long as they are under the constant supervision of a responsible adult.

Barbeques on unleased Territory or Commonwealth land

A Fire Permit is required for barbeques on unleased Territory or Commonwealth land in the Built Up Area and in Rural Areas using Solid Fuel (e.g. Wood etc) to cook food or heat liquids.

You still must take precautions when using barbeques, such as ensuring the area surrounding is clear of flammable material for three metres and that you have the means to extinguish any fire that you might cause, e.g. a fire extinguisher, a fire blanket or a continuous water supply.

Can I have a permit in urban area?

Permits within the built up area of the city are the responsibility of the ACT Fire & Rescue. They can be contacted on 02 6207 8363

How much does a permit cost?

Permits are free of charge.

Can a fire permit be cancelled or suspended?

A permit can be cancelled or suspended at any time. Permits are automatically suspended during:

  • Total fire bans; and
  • Any day when the Fire Danger Rating (FDR) reaches Very High or above. Unless a permit has expired, it may be used after the lifting of a total fire ban or when the FDR falls below Very High.

Information on the declaration of a Total Fire Ban and the Fire Danger Rating can be found on the home page of this website.

What preparation do I need to make?

If you are clearing, create smaller piles to make them easier for you to handle. Get your contractor to place the piles centrally in the cleared area ensuring they are away from structures, other trees and the boundary.

You will need to ensure that you have appropriate equipment onsite to control the fire you light. It is also important to have an area surrounding your fire clear of flammable material, the bigger the fire the larger the area you will need as a break.

You will also need to check on the day of the burn what the weather conditions are like and if a Total Fire Ban has been declared.

Once I have lit the fire what are my responsibilities?

Understand that once you light a fire, you are responsible for the consequences and any damage caused to neighbouring properties.

Once you have commenced a burn you are not to leave it until the burn is completed. It is an offence under section 126 of the Emergencies Act 2004 to leave a fire, even temporarily, unless it is extinguished.

Above all else read the conditions of the permit. If you fail to comply with the conditions written on the permit not only are you responsible for the damage you cause you are also liable to be fined for failing to comply with the conditions of the permit.

What happens if I lose control of my fire?

If you lose control of your fire contact “000″ immediately. It is the quickest way to get help and the sooner you call the quicker help will arrive.

“I burn stuff all the time; I do it after dark no one cares”!

It is illegal for you to burn without a permit during the declared bushfire danger period!

If a fire is reported, you will cause the response of a large number of fire appliances. While these crews are attending your illegal act they are unable to respond to other serious emergencies that may lead to loss of life and property. You will also face the possibility of being fined $10,000, imprisonment for 1 year or both.

This page was last modified on December 7th, 2012

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