Firebreak Legal Requirements

Installing and maintaining firebreaks each year is a legal requirement for all land owners/occupiers within the Shire. Further information on firebreaks and your legal requirements can be found in the Shire's current Firebreak Notice and is listed below.

Fire Hazard Reduction Notice

What are the legal firebreak requirements for my property?

Firebreak requirements are based on risk and land size. Check below for the specific legal requirements for you and your property.

If you live on land with an area greater than 25,000m² (2.5 hectares)

Fire Breaks

Install or upgrade a 3-metre-wide by 4-metre-high clearance, bare mineral earth, continuous (no dead ends) trafficable fire break as close as possible inside the entire perimeter of the land.

Dead Flammable Material (DFM)

Reduce and/or maintain all dead flammable material below 8 tonne per hectare.

Slashing

IF UNSTOCKED, slash, mow, or trim grasses, to a height no greater than 50mm and remove cuttings/swath across the entire property

Asset Protection Zone

Maintain a fuel reduced zone around all buildings and assets which extends 20 metres from the outermost point of all
buildings and assets.

  • Gutters, roofs, and walls of all buildings to be free of flammable matter and maintained.
  • Fuel load within the 20-metre zone is reduced and maintained to no more than 2 tonne per hectare.
  • Trees over 5 metres in height within the 20-metre zone to be under pruned up to 2 metres.
  • Trees or shrubs within 2 metres of a building / asset shall be pruned to a height no greater than 2 metres and/or pruned away from the building / asset to a distance greater than 2 metres.

Compliance is required by 1 December and must be maintained until 31 May each and every year.

If you live on land with a total area between 4,000m² (0.4ha) and 25,000m² (2.5ha)

Fire Breaks

Install or upgrade a 3-metre-wide by 4-metre-high clearance, bare mineral earth, continuous (no dead ends) trafficable fire break as close as possible inside the entire perimeter of the land.

Dead Flammable Material (DFM)

Reduce and/or maintain all dead flammable material below 8 tonne per hectare.

Slashing

Slash, mow, or trim dead grasses, dead shrubs, and dead plants to a height no greater than 50mm and remove cuttings/swath across the entire property

Asset Protection Zone

Maintain a fuel reduced zone around all buildings and assets which extends 20 metres from the outermost point of all
buildings and assets.

  • Gutters, roofs, and walls of all buildings to be free of flammable matter and maintained.
  • Fuel load within the 20-metre zone is reduced and maintained to no more than 2 tonne per hectare.
  • Trees over 5 metres in height within the 20-metre zone to be under pruned up to 2 metres.
  • Trees or shrubs within 2 metres of a building / asset shall be pruned to a height no greater than 2 metres and/or pruned away from the building / asset to a distance greater than 2 metres.

Compliance is required by 1 December and must be maintained until 31 May each and every year.

If you live on land with a total area less then 4,000m²

Dead Flammable Material (DFM)

Reduce and/or maintain all dead flammable material below 8 tonne per hectare.

Slashing

Slash, mow, or trim dead grasses, dead shrubs, and dead plants to a height no greater than 50mm and remove cuttings/swath across the entire property

Clean Gutter Debris

Gutters, roofs, and walls of all buildings to be free of flammable matter and maintained.

Compliance is required by 1 December and must be maintained until 31 May each and every year.

What if I can't meet a requirement/s of the Fire Hazard Reduction Notice?

If you consider it impractical to meet a requirement/s of this Notice, you may apply to the Shire for a variation no later than 1 October 2022.

Note: A variation is not an exemption but an application to employ other methods of property preparedness to land that you own and/or occupy.

If your application is not granted you must comply with all requirements outlined in the Fire Hazard Reduction Notice 2022/2023.

You might apply to vary your firebreak if:

  • It would be impractical or dangerous to construct a firebreak on your land due to its landscape.
  • A normal firebreak would encroach on a reticulated lawn. You need to keep the lawn green and maintained to a height of less than 25mm from 30 November to 31 May each and every year.
  • A normal firebreak would encroach on reticulated feed paddocks. You need to keep the paddocks green and maintained to a height of less than 100mm from 30 November to 31 May each and every year.
  • A normal firebreak would encroach on reticulated garden beds, orchards, or other sustained cultivation. You need to ensure clear trafficable access for emergency vehicles to your buildings and land.
  • Trees were previously planted where the firebreak would normally be placed so alternative siting of the firebreak is required.

Only the owner of a property can apply for a firebreak variation.

To apply for a variation call 9526 1111 or complete the form listed below.

Variation to Firebreak Order Enquiry Form

Fuel dumps and depots

Remove all flammable material within 10 metres of fuel dumps, fuel ramps or where fuel drums, whether containing fuel or not, are stored.

Haystacks

Clear and maintain a firebreak completely surrounding any haystack on the land, within 60 metres of the haystack.

Wood/solid fuel BBQs and pizza ovens

The use of wood/solid fuel BBQs and pizza ovens is permitted except for on days where the fire danger rating is HIGH or above.

The use of any wood/solid fuel BBQ or pizza oven is prohibited during a TOTAL FIRE BAN.

Campfires and firepits

Campfires and firepits are NOT permitted at any time during the PROHIBITED Burning Period or at any other time where the fire danger rating is HIGH or above.

Campfires and Firepits cannot be lit before 6pm, no more fuel can be added after 11pm, must be fully extinguished by midnight, must not be left unattended, must have an available method of extinguishment with you while burning and may not be lit on public land unless purpose built campfire pits have been provided by the
owner of the land and permission to use them has been given.

Any other requirements

Further to the firebreak requirements listed above, the Shire may instruct property owners or occupiers in writing to comply with additional firebreak prevention works.

These works are to reduce hazards and may include a Bushfire Risk Treatment Plan derived from the Shire’s Bushfire Risk Management Plan.

Firebreaks - Frequently Asked Questions

Further information on firebreaks and how they work can be found in the FAQs below.

What are firebreaks?

Firebreaks are defined in the Notice as "a strip of land free of all flammable material with the intention of minimising the spread or extension of a bushfire and provide safe access on the property for emergency vehicles and other firefighting operations."

Firebreaks are also used as a generic term to describe the broader fire prevention work required by landowners, such as managing grasses and other fuels and maintaining an asset protection zone around dwellings.

Why are firebreaks required?

Firebreaks are required for the following reasons:

  • To provide a safe area for firefighters to work from in a bushfire.
  • To prevent the extension of a bushfire.
  • To prevent a fire from entering or leaving your property.
  • to provide a starting point to contain a bushfire.

The landowner is responsible for the standard and quality of firebreaks on their land.

You can choose to install your firebreaks yourself or engage a contractor.

Remember you need to maintain your firebreak throughout the firebreak season. Regrowth occurs between December and May, and you will need to clear this regrowth and any fallen tree limbs and obstructions.

How effective are firebreaks?

We accept that firebreaks will not stop a high intensity fire in extreme fire conditions. However, firebreaks will certainly stop or slow down a low to moderate intensity fire.

Remember, firebreaks are only a part of the wider bushfire safety picture. It’s important you undertake other preparation such as managing fuel loads on your property, creating a bushfire survival plan and establishing an asset protection zone around dwellings.

Can the Shire provide me with contacts for firebreak contractors? 

The Shire maintains a list of local Firebreak Contractors, which can be viewed by clicking the link below.

Emergency Services Contractors Contacts

What is the best method for installing firebreaks?

Firebreaks can be installed by a number of means, including ploughing, grading and spraying. The firebreak needs to be clear, bare mineral earth with no remaining vegetation. Contractors can assist in advising on the best solution for your circumstances. Consider the environmental impact and water/soil erosion in firebreak construction.

What is the best method for removing or reducing fuel loads?

Fuel loads can be managed through manual removal of fuels, mowing or slashing grasses, under pruning of trees and shrubs, chemical spraying and hazard reduction burning. Restrictions to hazard reduction burning may apply.

What is an acceptable firebreak?

Firebreaks can

  • Detour around single large trees without a variation (as long as you comply with the required dimensions of your firebreak).
  • Be achieved by chemical application, ploughing and grading, however loose soil may erode in steep areas and will require constant maintenance. Stepping and grading the firebreak into the incline will reduce this effect.

Firebreaks can’t

  • Detour around multiple large trees without a variation.
  • Be outside the boundaries of your land.
  • Be on roads, verges, bridle paths, footpaths, dual access ways or reserves.
  • Be an existing emergency access way unless it is on your land and was required as a condition of planning approval.

Will installing a firebreak impact the native flora/fauna?

The Notice has been created trying to balance the environment and the protection of life and property as much as possible.

If you are unsure about anything contained in the Notice please contact the Shire office.

Who is responsible for maintaining the verge of my property?

Residents are encouraged to responsibly maintain the verge of their property, however if you have concerns please report them to the Shire in writing. You are not permitted to set fire to road verges at any time of the year without written permission from the Shire.

Where do these regulations come from? Who decides that we must do this?

The requirement for land owners/occupants to undertake fire prevention comes via section 33 of the Bush Fires Act 1954. Local governments are responsible for specifying what land owners/occupants must do to comply. These requirements are developed in consultation with a range of key stakeholders including Bush Fire Brigade Officers, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Department of Parks and Wildlife and internal Shire officers, before being endorsed and approved by the Chief Executive Officer.