The Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 is the principle legislation that deals with lighting fires in the open in Queensland. The Act provides a systematic approach to the authorised use and control of fire in the open and for fire prevention.
The Act makes it illegal to light a fire without a 'Permit to Light Fire' issued by a fire warden. Under nuisance provisions of the Local Government Act 2009 a local government may also have in place a local law restricting or prohibiting the lighting of a fire in part or all of the local government area.
Permit to Light Fire Myths and Facts
That all ‘Permit to Light Fire’ applicants must provide their adjoining neighbours with a minimum of 72 hours notification in relation to their intent to apply for a permit.
Not all applicants for a ‘Permit to Light Fire’ are required to provide their adjoining neighbours with a minimum of 72 hours notification. Fire Wardens have the discretionary authority to determine what is required as a reasonable amount of notification time based on local knowledge and experience.
While 72 hours notification (or greater) may be seen as a reasonable amount of time in populated areas, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) acknowledges that this timeframe may not be appropriate in rural primary production areas. Fire Wardens have the authority to assess the needs of both the applicant and adjoining neighbours when determining the appropriate notification timeframe for each individual application. Fire Wardens are encouraged to discuss any local anomalies and/or issues with their respective Chief Fire Warden in relation to this topic. While 72 hours notification may be written as a standard in some QFES produced materials, Fire Wardens have the authority to exercise discretion in relation to a reasonable time of notification.
That all ‘Permit to Light Fire’ applications must be received by the Fire Warden in writing.
Applications for a ‘Permit to Light Fire’ can be received either verbally or in writing. Fire Wardens have the discretionary authority to determine the method in which a permit application is received.
While written applications are preferred, QFES acknowledges that local conditions may dictate an alternative method. Fire Wardens are therefore afforded the authority to accept verbal applications when circumstances such as time, distance, and applicant experience, are taken into account.
That all Fire Bans are instigated from Senior QFES staff located in Brisbane.
Fire bans are predominantly localised and are enforced by the Chief Fire Warden (Area Director, Rural Fire Service).
Before enforcing a local fire ban, consultation will occur with the Regional Manager, Rural Fire Service and other key local stakeholders (which may include Fire Wardens). State wide fire bans are rare and can only be instigated by the Commissioner. There has been no state wide fire bans in recent years.
Fire Wardens have the authority to appoint a Deputy Fire Warden for their respective district who is then able to operate in conjunction with the Fire Warden.
Deputy Fire Wardens must be appointed by the Chief Fire Warden and can only operate in the absence of the Fire Warden.
Fire Wardens operate within a designated Fire Warden District under the command of a Chief Fire Warden. Deputy Fire Wardens are used to proxy responsibility for the Fire Warden in times of absence and only possess the powers of a Fire Warden when in operation as a substitute. The Fire Warden must formally delegate authority to the Deputy Fire Warden, either verbally or in writing, and notify the Chief Fire Warden that delegation has occurred and for what timeframe.
Is implemented locally by the Chief Fire Warden, following consultation with local Fire Wardens and other stakeholders. All permits are revoked during a Fire Ban. A state-wide Fire Ban is very rare, and can only be instigated by the Commissioner. There have been no state-wide Fire Bans in recent years.
Fire Permit Restriction Period
Is implemented locally by a Fire Warden during times of increased fire danger. Discretionary authority is used to restrict and/or cease the issuing of fire permits until the period of perceived increased risk has terminated. Fire permits are not automatically revoked during this period. Fire Wardens are encouraged to discuss the implications of a local Fire Permit Restriction Period with their respective Chief Fire Warden prior to implementation. Note: Fire Wardens can revoke permits at any time of the year if they have a valid reason.
Is implemented state wide by the Commissioner to focus attention and resources towards a common threat including bushfire and seasonal severe weather events.