Fire fighters at the bush fire at Drake.
Fire fighters at the bush fire at Drake. Marc Stapelberg

EXTREME FIRE DANGER: Total fire ban conditions extended

TOTAL fire ban conditions have been extended to tomorrow as dangerous hot and gusty conditions continue across Northern NSW.

There will be total fire bans in place for the Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield, and Tweed council areas.

A NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman said the Northern Tablelands and Northern Rivers region will both have predicted extreme fire danger ratings for Friday, the second highest rating, and residents should remain vigilant.

The spokesman said under extreme fire conditions, only homes that are specially designed and constructed to withstand a bush fire, prepared to the highest level and actively defended may provide safety.

He said residents must follow your Bush Fire Survival Plan and know when you will leave, where you will go and how you will get there.

He said know what you will do if you cannot leave, and leaving early in the day is your safest option.

Keep informed by listening to local radio, watching television news broadcasts and monitoring www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.

Temperatures across the Northern Rivers will be in the mid to high 30s, with Casino expected to top 39C tomorrow, with winds gusting up to 30km/h.

So what do the warnings mean, and what are your obligations?

Fire danger ratings give you an indication of the consequences of a fire, if one was to start.

The higher the fire danger, the more dangerous the conditions. You should use the fire danger ratings as a trigger to take action.

Bush fires are more likely to spread and cause damage on days when the weather is very hot, dry and windy. These are usually on very high to extreme fire days.

What the fire ratings mean

In a total fire ban no fire may be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended. This includes incinerators and barbecues which burn solid fuel such wood, charcoal or heat beads. No general purpose welding, grinding, soldering or gas cutting can be done in the open.

Fire permits are cancelled during a total fire ban, and lighting a fire on a day of total fire ban attracts an on the spot fine of $2200.

If the matter goes to court, you could be subject to a fine of up to $5500 and/or 12 months jail, while civil law suits can also be brought against the person responsible for a fire by those seeking compensation for losses sustained.

What you should never do:

  • Never light a campfire
  • Never light a fire in the open (not for cooking, nor recreational purposes)
  • Portable gas/electric barbecues are banned in NSW State Forests, National Parks or Regional Parks on Total Fire Ban days. (NOTE: In some cases you may be able to use gas or electric barbecues constructed by the NSW National Park or State Forest in specified picnic areas)
  • Don't carry out welding, grinding, soldering, or gas cutting works in the open, or anything likely to cause sparks
  • No burning off of any kind in the open (includes burning grass, weeds, leaves, rubbish).

When caution must be used:

  • Using incinerators (may be banned in some areas), strict conditions apply
  • Using a harvester - so long as; any heated area does not come into contact with combustible matter: machinery is in good and serviceable condition; machinery is fitted with a spark arrester; and the machinery has fire safety equipment on board. Insurance companies may impose their own restrictions

You can light a gas or electric barbecue on your own property, so long as it is under the direct control of a responsible adult; has 2m clearance around the barbecue of anything which can burn.

Gas barbecues must be on a residential property within 20m of a house or dwelling, with immediate access to a continuous supply of water.