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.

Firebreak Control Notice Booklet 2020-2021

Why are my 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.

1) If you live on 1 acre or less

On your land:

  • Cut all grass to less than 25mm in height and maintain until 31 May, 2021

  • Trim all trees and bushes that overhang driveways, access ways and firebreaks to leave a 4 metre wide clearance and a clear vertical axis.

OR

Install firebreaks that are:

  • Immediately inside all external boundaries.

  • Immediately surrounding all agricultural buildings, sheds or group of buildings.

  • A minimum of 3 metres wide, but not wider than 5 metres.

  • Trim all trees and bushes that overhang driveways, access ways and firebreaks to leave a 4 metre wide clearance and a clear vertical axis.

For your dwellings

  • Maintain 20m asset protection zones or as per your approved BAL/FMP assessment.

  • Trim back all trees overhanging buildings.

Compliance is required by 30 November and must be maintained until 31 May each and every year.

2) If you live on more than 1 acre

On your land:

  • Keep grasses below 150mm or if used for grazing ensure rotation of grazed and un-grazed to prevent large fire run.

  • Trim all trees and bushes that overhang driveways, access ways and firebreaks to leave a 4 metre wide clearance and a clear vertical axis.

Install firebreaks that are:

  • Immediately inside all external boundaries.

  • Immediately surrounding all agricultural buildings, sheds or group of buildings.

  • A minimum of 3 metres wide, but not wider than 5 metres.

  • For your dwellings

  • Maintain 20m asset protection zones or as per your approved BAL/FMP assessment.

  • Trim back all trees overhanging buildings.

Compliance is required by 30 November and must be maintained until 31 May each and every year.

3) To vary your firebreak

Apply in writing to the Shire from 1 June to 31 October requesting your variation and the reasons for your application. If approved all firebreak conditions will be as per your variation with a new notice being issued for your property.

If your variation is not approved or your previous variation is cancelled, you must comply with the Firebreak Notice requirements for your land.

You don’t need to apply for a variation every year. Remember, variations are provided to the property owner, not the land.

To apply for a variation call 9526 1111 and request a Firebreak Variation application form or see below.

Compliance is required by 15 November and must be maintained until 31 May each and every year.

Variation to Firebreak Order Enquiry Form

4) If you have a plantation

You must comply with:

  • The Shire’s conditions of approval.

  • Any approved Bushfire Management Plan.

  • Australian Standard 3959 - Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas.

On your land install firebreaks that are:

  • Immediately inside all external boundaries.

  • Immediately surrounding all agricultural buildings, sheds or group of buildings.

  • A minimum of 20 metres wide, or as per your planning approval.

  • Have a clear vertical axis.

Compliance is required throughout the whole year.

5) Storing fuel and haystacks

Around fuel storage areas install firebreaks that are:

  • Immediately surrounding each stack or pile.

  • A minimum of 3 metres wide, but not wider than 20 metres, with a clear vertical axis.

  • Around haystacks; your haystack area is not permitted to be larger than 25m long x 10m wide x 5m high.

Install firebreaks that are:

  • Immediately surrounding each stack or pile.

  • A minimum of 3 metres wide, but not wider than 20 metres.

  • Include where possible additional low fuel zones outside of the firebreak area. Cut all grass within these zones to less than 100mm in height.

Compliance is required by 30 November and must be maintained until 31 May each and every year

6) Other flammable materials

Stacks of other flammable materials, such as mulch, compost or combustible materials, is not permitted to be larger than 20m long x 10m wide x 3m high. Install firebreaks that are:

  • Immediately surrounding each stack or pile.

  • A minimum of 10 metres wide, but not wider than 20 metres. If only 10 metres wide then have an additional 5m low fuel area directly adjacent to the firebreak.

  • Include where possible additional low fuel zones outside of the firebreak area. Cut all grass within these zones to less than 100mm in height.

Remember Australian Standard 3959 - Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas applies to new buildings on your land.

Compliance is required by 30 November and must be maintained until 31 May each and every year.

7) Bushfire and Emergency Management Plans and BAL Assessments

Some properties need to comply with approved:

  • Bushfire Management Plans.

  • Emergency Management Plans.

  • This is because of conditions approved under a subdivision approval, development approval or building permit.

  • These requirements are in addition to the requirements of this Notice.

Compliance is required throughout the whole year.

8) 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.

9) Burning your garden waste

In accordance with Section 24G of the Bush Fires Act 1954 as amended. If you want to burn your garden waste you need to:

  • Let your neighbours know 72 hours before you burn.

  • Each pile can be no bigger than 1m squared

  • Only one pile may be alight at any one time.

  • Only burn dry garden waste from your property without accelerants.

  • Don’t burn at all during the prohibited burning period.

  • During restricted burning period don’t burn on Sundays or public holidays.

Compliance is required during the restricted and prohibited burning periods

 

Variation to Firebreak Orders

If you consider you cannot clear firebreaks as required by the Firebreak Notice, you may apply in writing to Council requesting permission to provide firebreaks in an alternative position or take alternative action to comply with the Firebreak Notice.

When applying to vary your firebreak, please remember constructed driveways must have our approval to be used as a firebreak.

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.

To apply

To apply for a variation please call 9526 1111 and request a Variation to Firebreak Order Kit or fill out the request form below and return it to the Shire.

Variation to Firebreak Order Enquiry Form

Only the owner of a property can apply for a firebreak variation. Download the Firebreak Variation application form from our website www.sjshire.wa.gov.au.

You don’t need to apply for a variation every year, but if there is a change to the law or you fail to comply with your variation we will advise you. If there is a change in ownership of the property, the new owner needs to reapply.

Compliance

If approved, all firebreak conditions will be as per your approved variation. If your variation isn’t approved or your previous variation is cancelled, you must comply with the requirements in the Firebreak Notice within 14 days.

Key dates

1 June: Applications open

31 October: Applications close

15 November: Approved variations must be in place

31 May: Variations must be maintained until this date

Bushfire Management Plans

If your property has a bushfire management plan approved as part of a subdivision or planning application, there may be additional firebreak and fuel hazard reduction requirements. Further information on bushfire management plans can be found below.

FAQs Firebreaks

You can find out the answers to your queries on general Firebreak notices below.

What are firebreaks?

‘Firebreaks’ are defined in the Notice as ‘a strip of land that has been cleared of all trees, bushes, grasses and any other object or thing or flammable vegetation leaving clear, bare mineral earth.’

Firebreaks is 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 provide:

  • Provide a safe area for firefighters to work from in a bushfire.
  • Prevent the extension of a bushfire.
  • Prevent a fire from entering or leaving your property.
  • 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.

Do firebreaks really work? I mean, fires can travel quickly and over large distances!

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.

Firebreaks are only a part of the wider bushfire safety picture, so its 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 you recommend any firebreak contractors?

The Shire is unable to recommend any contractors for firebreak and fuel hazard reduction work.

The Serpentine Jarrahdale Shire maintains a list of local Firebreak Contractors, please see below or in the Firebreak Booklet.

Emergency Services Contractors Contacts

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

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.

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 and further information is available on the Shire’s website.

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.

Natural obstructions/topography/other circumstances make it impractical for me to install firebreaks in accordance with the requirements of the Notice. What can I do?

In circumstances where you consider it impractical to install standard firebreaks, you can make application to the Shire to modify your firebreak requirements. Please make contact with the Shire office to discuss this in greater detail.

I am concerned about the impact carrying out this work will have on 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.

The Shire verge on my property is overgrown and non-complaint. Will I get an infringement for this? Who is responsible for keeping the verge maintained? Am I allowed to clear the verge to make it compliant?

No, you will not receive an infringement notice for non-compliant Shire verge. 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.

I never received the Fire Control Notice 2020/21?

Under the Bush Fires Act 1954 the Shire is required to advertise the Firebreak & Fuel Hazard Reduction Notice in the local newspaper (The Examiner) and the WA Government Gazette. The Shire also posts the notice to landowners in September-October each year sing the rates database to ensure relevant information is received by the property owners and the community. If you have not received a copy of the Notice copies are available the Shire office, the Shire's website or alternatively a copy can be posted or to you upon request.

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

The requirement for land owners/occupants to undertake fire prevention comes section 33 of the Bush Fires Act 1954. Local governments are responsible for specifying what land owners/occupants must do to comply. These require 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.

When were we told about this process? we have never had to do this before?

These requirements are in place each year, there are advertisements placed in the local paper, Government Gazette and a Firebreak & Fuel Hazard Reduction Notice is posted to all landowners. It clearly states in the Firebreak & Fuel Hazard Reduction Notice that it is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure they comply with this Notice.

I didn't know what the Notice was so I threw it in the bin. I thought it was just a brochure, it wasn't clear to me it was a Firebreak & Fuel Hazard Reduction Notice and that I was required to take action.

It is important to read through this document, if you are unsure about any sections of the Notice please contact the Shire. The Notice sent to you clearly identifies that it is the landowner’s legal responsibility to be aware of the Notice requirements.

I have only just recently purchased the property and the real-estate agent/previous owner(s) did not inform me of any works required to be completed on the property. Why am I now liable when I didn't know?

The Shire includes information on the firebreak requirements of each property and the status of any outstanding firebreak related work orders, infringements and/or invoices in relation to non-compliance with the Notice in the orders and requisitions for all property sales in the Shire.

All new landowners are also posted a Welcome Pack which includes a copy of the current Firebreak & Fuel Hazard Reduction Notice.