FIRE 

The Shire of Carnarvon Ranger Services with the assistance of the Department of Fire and Emergency (DFES) and the Community Emergency Manager monitor, reports and control bushfires within the Shire of Carnarvon. The Rangers have responsibilities under the Bushfire Act. 

The Restricted Burning Period for the Shire of Carnarvon is from the 1st of November to the 30th of April each year. 

During this period;

  • A permit is required to burn
  • Burning is prohibited on any day when the Fire Danger Rating reaches Very High, Severe, Extreme or Catastrophic
  • Burning is prohibited when a Total Fire Ban has been declared.

Firebreak Notice Information 

Each year, the Shire of Carnarvon issues Firebreak Notices to all landowners and occupiers in the Shire of Carnarvon. 

As a measure to assist in the control of bush fires or prevent the spread or extension of a bush fire, all owners and occupiers of land within the Shire of Carnarvon are required before the 1st day of November in each year (or within 14 days of becoming the owner or occupier of land if after that date) to clear firebreaks and maintain them up to and including the 30th day of April the following year, in accordance with this notice.

Any person failing to comply with these notices may be liable, whether prosecuted or not, to pay the cost of the Shire of Carnarvon obtaining contractors to perform any fire hazard reduction works on your property. (Section 33 Bush Fires Act 1954) 

The penalty for failing to comply with these notices is a fine of $5,000 or a modified penalty of $250 per day. 

Town Site Land 

Refers to all land within the townsite: 

1. Where the land is 2,000 square meters or less:

    • Maintain all dry grass on the land to a height no greater than 50mm
    • Ensure no tree crowns overhang buildings
    • Prune trees and shrubs, and remove dead flammable material within 1.5m around all buildings
    • Ensure the roofs, gutters and walls of all buildings on the land are free of flammable matter

2. Where the land is greater than 2,000 square meters:

  • Install a trafficable firebreak 3m wide and 4m high around all structures and within 2m of all external boundaries of the land
  • Keep a 20m low fuel buffer zone, clear of all flammable material, around all buildings

Rural, Pastoral & Plantation Land 

Refers to all land outside the townsite: 

  • Minimum width of 3m trafficable firebreak is required to be installed immediately inside or within 2m of the external boundaries of the land and kept clear of all flammable material.
  • Around buildings, a 20m “parkland cleared less than 50mm” low fuel   buffer zone clear of all flammable material is required

Alternate Style Firebreak 

If it is considered impracticable for any reason to clear firebreaks or to remove flammable material from the land as required by this notice, you may apply in writing to the Shire of Carnarvon no later than 25 September each year for permission to install firebreaks in an alternate location or take alternate action to abate fire hazards on land.

For further information, contact Carnarvon Rangers on (08) 9941 0000 or email rangers@carnarvon.wa.gov.au 

Rubbish Sites 

Refers to all rubbish sites for pastoral stations, town sites and community use.

Trafficable firebreaks are to be installed no less than 3m in width and within 2m of the perimeter of the rubbish sites. 

Fuel Dumps & Depots 

Remove all flammable materials within 5m of where fuel drums, fuel ramps or fuel dumps are located, whether the drums contain fuel or not. 

Any clearing work 

All clearing works must be performed to the satisfaction of a duly authorized Bush Fire Control Officer for the Shire of Carnarvon. 

Preparing your firebreak 

Firebreaks are there to reduce the spread of a low-intensity fire and to provide safe access on your property for firefighters, so must be maintained and kept clear of all obstacles and flammable materials.

Firefighters need to be able to use the firebreak on days of strong winds or extreme conditions. It is generally accepted that a 3m firebreak will be unlikely to stop a wildfire, however, it assists firefighters. The more fire prevention work you undertake, the greater the chance of your family and property surviving a fire.

Such firebreaks may be constructed by one or more of the following methods:

  • Ploughing 
  • Cultivating 
  • Scarifying 
  • Raking 
  • Burning 
  • Chemical Spraying 
  • or another approved method

DISCHARGING SMOKE & WHAT NOT TO BURN

Not all materials are suitable for burning. Burning any materials that discharge smoke into the environment can cause air pollution and health problems, particularly for the elderly and children.

You do not need a permit to burn during the winter months, this is the perfect time to reduce the fuel load on your property. If you are going to burn, you are still required to exercise caution, manage smoke nuisance and ensure that there are no materials that create black smoke. 

Some examples of what NOT to burn: 

  • Carpet, fabrics or textiles
  • Irrigation and plantation bunting/plastics
  • Green waste that has not been dried for at least 2 months
  • Electrical cables
  • Chemicals
  • Organic solvents
  • Paint
  • Plastic including polystyrene
  • Rubber
  • Waste oil, fats or grease
  • Timber that has been treated with preservatives
  • Tyres
  • Vehicles or vessels and their parts

Burning these materials releases toxic chemicals into the environment. This is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act and can result in a penalty of up to $5,000.

If you are unsure of what you can burn, give Rangers a call and they will be happy to give you some advice.

WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE BURNING

While burning garden refuse can be a convenient way of removing dead plant material from your property, there are some things you should consider before lighting any fire.

Chemical Storage: Many hazardous and flammable fuels and chemicals are stored in garages, workshops and in the home. It is recommended that you remove all flammable materials within 5m of where your chemical store is located and keep chemical storage to a minimum. If a bushfire spreads onto your property and sets chemicals alight, this can cause many safety and health issues for the volunteers who are trying to save your property.

Inform your neighbours: Always give your neighbours plenty of notice of your intention to burn. This will give them time to make alternative arrangements for any person with respiratory issues who may be badly affected by smoke and to bring pets indoors. 

Condition of Refuse: Plant material that is green, partly green, or wet will create more smoke than dry material. It will not burn efficiently and piles of smouldering material can create long-lasting smoke hazards. Only burn dry dead material to minimize the amount of smoke produced.

Access ways: Many hazardous and flammable fuels and chemicals are stored in garages, workshops and in the home. It is recommended that you remove all flammable materials within 5m of where your chemical store is located and keep chemical storage to a minimum. If a bushfire spreads onto your property and sets chemicals alight, this can cause many safety and health issues for the volunteers who are trying to save your property.

BUILDING PROTECTION ZONE 

The purpose of the Building Protection Zone (BPZ) is to reduce flammable fuel in the immediate vicinity of the structure and other assets. It is recommended that you keep a clear area around all habitable buildings to improve the chances of surviving a bush fire.

One way you can help protect your property is to create a circle of safety (building protection zone) around the building:

 Create a 20-meter circle of safety around your home and other buildings by clearing all rubbish, long dry grass, bark and material that may catch fire

  • Prune lower branches of trees and shrubs up to 2m off the ground to stop a ground fire from spreading into the canopy of the trees
  • No tree or shrub (over 2m high) is to be within 2m of a building
  • There are to be no tree crowns or branches hanging over habitable buildings
  • Ensure roofs, gutters and walls of a building on the land are free of flammable matter
  • Wood piles and flammable materials should be stored a safe distance from  habitable buildings
  • Gas Cylinders should be stored in an area that is clear of all flammable material.
  • Gas vent valves should face away from the building and anything flammable.
  • Gas cylinders should be securely tethered with non-flammable fastenings to prevent toppling over.

HAZARD REDUCTION 

Through the removal or reduction of available fuel on a property, hazard reduction can be achieved by:

  • Mowing, slashing and removing long dry grass or vegetation.
  • Raking or utilizing machinery to remove leaf litter and dead vegetation
  • Controlled burning is an effective way to reduce available ground fuel, however, controlled burning requires considerable experience in order to be carried out safely.

For more information, contact your local Bushfire Brigade. 

If you are not comfortable in conducting a burn yourself or would like to burn a   larger area on your property, the local Volunteer Fire Brigades can assist with your burns for a fee, subject to volunteer availability. Please note that this service is available on land that you own or rent only, and does not include areas adjoining your property, including road verges. All funds raised through conducting burns on the private property go directly towards supporting your local volunteer fire brigades.

Engaging the brigades does not remove the landowner's responsibility to adhere to the Firebreak Notice. Contact your local brigade for more information:

  • Carnarvon Townsite Area, including Brown Range;

Carnarvon Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service carnarvonvfrs@bigpond.com

  • For outside the townsite, including plantation areas;

Gascoyne River Bush Fire Brigade gascoynevbfb@gmail.com

For more information about burning, please contact the Community Emergency  Services Manager on 0448 081 637.

RESTRICTED BURNING PERIODS

The Restricted Burning Period for the Shire of Carnarvon is from the 1st of November to the 30th of April each year.

During this period;

  • A permit is required to burn
  • Burning is prohibited on any day when the Fire Danger Rating reaches Very High, Severe, Extreme or Catastrophic
  • Burning is prohibited when a Total Fire Ban has been declared.

The penalty for failing to comply with this notice is a fine of $5000 or a modified penalty of $250 per day.

PERMITS TO BURN can be obtained by contacting Rangers from Monday to Friday on (08) 9941 0000.

FIRE DANGER RATING BOARD

No fire of any kind may be lit on a day when the forecast Fire Danger Rating for the district is VERY HIGH, SEVERE, EXTREME or CATASTROPHIC.   You are only allowed to burn on days that are Low - Moderate or High.   These signs are located on North West Coast Highway north and south of Carnarvon. You can also look on the BOM website at http://www.bom.gov.au/wa/forecasts/fire-danger-ratings.shtml

TOTAL FIRE BANS

A Total Fire Ban  (TFB) is declared on days when a fire is most likely to spread rapidly because of extreme fire weather or if there are already widespread fires and fire fighting resources are being stretched.

When a TFB has been declared, it means a person must not:

  • Light, maintain or use a fire in the open air (even when camping)
  • Carry out an activity in the open air that causes or is likely to cause a fire
  • Use a BBQ or cooker that requires solid fuel

The ban includes:

  • Hot works such as welding, grinding, soldering and gas cutting
  • All solid fuel fires for the purpose of cooking or camping
  • Use of incinerators and other activities e.g. fired pizza ovens

How to check when a TFB has been declared or for more information on fire prevention bans:

  • on the Emergency WA  website at www.emergency.wa.gov.au
  • on the BOM website at www.bom.gov.au/wa/forecasts/fire-danger-ratings
  • on the DFES website www.dfes.wa.gov.au/totalfirebans
  • on the DFES TFB Hotline 1800 709 355
  • call Carnarvon Rangers on 9941 0019

The FES Commissioner is permitted to grant TFB exemptions in accordance with  Section 22C of the Bush Fires Act 1954, as a delegate of the Minister. If you require an exemption, you need to apply well ahead of time. An exemption will only be issued under strict conditions and reporting requirements, and only applies for work that cannot be reasonably postponed to a time with safer weather conditions.

You will be fined if you ignore a Total Fire Ban - a $1,000 on-the-spot fine. If it is a serious breach, you could get up to a $25,000 fine and/or be jailed for 12 months.