Being prepared for the bushfire season is essential in a municipality that has a lot of bushland. It is important to remember how quickly things can change; bushfires can range from slow moving controllable fires to catastrophic firestorms. The Tasmania Fire Service has great resources on their website to help you make a plan for your family and home.
Preparing your property and creating a defendable space will help your home to survive a bushfire. Once you have created the space and protected your home against possible ‘ember attack’, keep it maintained all year round. Permits may be required for clearing so if you are in doubt, seek advice from Council.
The burning of your fuel loading may also require permits, so check with Tasmania Fire Service to see what you are able to do and when.
Know your risk and make a plan
Individuals, communities and government all play a part and share responsibility to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from bushfires. Learn about the bushfire risk in your area and how you can prepare to survive a bushfire emergency.
Understanding the Fire Danger Rating will help you make decisions about what actions you need to take according to forecast weather conditions. The rating is determined by the Tasmania Fire Service using weather information from the Bureau of Meteorology. Know the ratings and what they mean, visit the Fire Danger Rating guide for more information.
In a large bushfire emergency event fire trucks may not be available to come to every property. A properly prepared home is more likely to survive a bushfire than one that hasn’t been prepared. Knowing your risk and making a plan before the fire season begins will help you decide whether you should leave early or stay and defend your property. Leaving early is always the safest option when a bushfire threatens your home.
The Australian Red Cross has developed Rediplan (PDF) which you can also get from our offices.
Community Bushfire Protection Plans
Tasmania Fire Service has prepared a number of Community Bushfire Protection Plans (external link) to assist communities. Plans are available for:
- Bonnet Hill
- Fern Tree
- Kettering – Woodbridge
- Neika – Leslie Vale
- Nicholls Rivulet Area
- Snug Area
- Taroona Area
- Tinderbox Area
We advise you to familiarise yourself with the plan for your area and act on the advice provided by Tasmania Fire Service.
Bushfire Ready Neighbourhoods Program
This program focuses on building a shared responsibility approach to bushfire preparedness through recognising that individuals, communities and TFS all play a key part. The program aim is to build resilience and capacity in bushfire prevention and preparedness. Visit the Bushfire Ready Neighbourhoods website for more information, advice and resources.
Council’s Bushfire Policy and Plans
We are committed to minimising the risk of bushfire to the community whilst balancing the need to protect the special values of our bushland areas. Council also recognises the ecological role of fire in its consideration of bushfire management issues. Council’s policy has been adopted with the aim of reducing fire risk within residential areas. This is undertaken by advising owners of vacant residential land of their need to take action to reduce vegetation and, where owners fail to take action, issue abatement notices in accordance with the Local Government Act 1993 and potentially issue an infringement notice.
View the Fire Abatement Policy – Vacant Land in Residential Areas (PDF)
Council is currently preparing a Bushfire Management Strategy for its network of bushland reserves. Bushfire Management Plans will also be prepared for individual natural area reserves. There are plans in place for the following reserves:
- Algona Reserve
- Boronia Hill Reserve
- Hawthorn Drive Reserve
- Denison Street Reserve
- Suncoast Headlands Reserve
- Wellington Park Reserve
- Peter Murrell Reserve (Parks and Wildlife Service, Tasmania)
State legislation bans backyard burning in the open or using an incinerator on blocks less than 2,000 square metres in area. Most residential house lots are between 600m2 and 1,200m2 so this restriction affects the majority of households in the Kingborough Municipality.
The legislation and regulations are aimed at improving air quality by placing controls on backyard burning. The legislation does not prevent fire hazard reduction burns on large properties but does prohibit the burning of rubbish, plastics and other hazardous substances. A permit to burn may also be required from the Tasmania Fire Service (if you are planning to burn during the Fire Permit season).
In addition to State legislation, Council has a Health and Environmental Services By-Law which details local laws that apply to the use of incinerators, open air burning and wood heaters within the Kingborough Municipality.
This By-Law states that a person must not light an incinerator or open air fire on any premises:
- having an area of less than 2000 square metres; and
- within or partly within a residential zone (under the Kingborough Interim Planning Scheme.
A person may burn unpainted, untreated and uncontaminated wood, pellet fuel, a briquette, paper, coal or peat in an incinerator or open air fire where:
- the fire is for cooking food, heating liquids or warming human beings; and
- an exemption has been granted by the General Manager.
Penalties and fines apply for non-compliance with the By-Law.
The Tasmania Fire Service may declare a Fire Permit Period for all or parts of the State when the danger of bushfire is considered high. During the Fire Permit Period fires are not banned, they are still allowed where there are good opportunities to safely use fire for land management purposes. Burning must be carried out in accordance with the requirements that are written in the permit.
Getting a permit is important because:
- It ensures you are complying with conditions to make sure your burn is safe.
- It provides certain protections for the person lighting the fire if the fire were to escape.
- You need a fire permit for the burning of vegetation at all times during a declared Fire Permit Period regardless of the weather conditions.
Check the Tasmania Fire Service website to see if a permit is required for your planned fire.
To get a permit you should contact your local Fire Permit Officer on free-call 1800 000 699.
Removal of vegetation can be an effective way to reduce fire hazard on your property and create a defendable space around your house. The removal of native vegetation may require a permit from Council. View our guide on when Council approval is required for Vegetation Removal.
We recommend seeking advice from Council staff to determine which rules apply to your proposed activity before undertaking any vegetation removal, particularly removal of native vegetation.
Contact council on 6211 8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Are there any exemptions?
There are exemptions for management of bushland vegetation around existing dwellings for protection from bushfire in certain circumstances, including:
Fire hazard management works in accordance with an abatement notice issued under the Local Government Act 1993.
Bushfire hazard management around existing dwellings in accordance with a bushfire hazard management plan endorsed by an accredited person, wherein the extent of clearance/disturbance is the minimum necessary for adequate protection from bushfire.
In order to determine whether your situation meets the requirements for an exemption, you will need to have a Bushfire Hazard Management Plan drawn up for your property by an accredited Bushfire Hazard Practitioner and endorsed by Council.
A list of Bushfire Hazard Practitioners who have been accredited by the Tasmania Fire Service to write Bushfire Hazard Management Plans can be found on the Tasmania Fire Service website – What Does a Bushfire Hazard Practitioner Do?
Requests to clear new fuel breaks within Councils bushland reserves as part of Hazard Management Areas for new developments adjoining reserves have the potential to impact negatively on the value of Kingborough’s bushland reserves. Where possible, all Bushfire Hazard Management Areas should be contained within the property being developed.
Many people have been injured or killed in bushfires whilst trying to save stock or rescue pets. It is important to have a well-prepared plan for your pets and livestock before the bushfire season begins. Decide in advance when, where and how you will move them if they need to be moved to a safer place.
- It is important to ensure your own safety before the safety of your pets and livestock. Many people have died during bushfires whilst trying to save pets and livestock.
- Relocate pets to a safe place as early as possible, well before a fire front approaches.
- Move livestock to large, well-grazed or irrigated paddocks and ensure they have plenty of water.
- If you have small animals (dogs, cats, birds, rabbits etc.), identify a room within the house where they can be confined so they do not interfere with your efforts in protecting your property or livestock and so they do not run off into greater danger. You don’t want to be caught in a fire because you were trying to catch panicking animals.
- Bring food, water, bedding and woollen blankets, a pet first-aid kit, collar and lead and any medications with you when you evacuate.
- Keep a copy of your pet’s immunisation records in your fire evacuation kit or ‘go bag’ – they might be required at boarding or holding facilities if you evacuate your pets.
- Do not look for pets during a fire. You must seek shelter because radiant heat can kill quickly.
- Visit the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment (DPIPWE) website – Animals and Bushfire Planning – for more information on what to do with livestock and pets in the event of a fire emergency.