People who ignore Total Fire Bans (TFBs) will be targeted under a new scheme aimed at educating Western Australians on the dangers of breaching a ban as well as catching and prosecuting serious offences.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ (DFES) records show almost one third of out of control fires on Total Fire Ban declared days during the 2016-2017 bushfire season started as a result of banned fire activity.
The penalty for breaching a TFB or exemption is a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment for 12 months.
DFES will proactively investigate TFB breaches and issue warning notices where appropriate or take action to prosecute repeat offenders and serious offences.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner Country Operations Graham Swift said people breaching Total Fire Bans are putting the community at unnecessary risk.
“Total Fire Bans are declared on days fires will be very difficult to control due to extreme fire weather conditions, or if there are widespread fires seriously stretching firefighting resources,” Assistant Commissioner Swift said.
“Ignorance isn’t an excuse during a Total Fire Ban so do the right thing and don’t put the lives of your family and neighbours at risk.
“These bans are issued to protect the community and our emergency services personnel from the devastating effect of bushfire so it is vital everyone acknowledges and adheres to a ban.
“Welding or using open air fires for the purpose of cooking or camping might seem like innocuous activities but when combined with the conditions seen on Total Fire Ban days, they have the potential to cause significant destruction.
“Protecting the community is a shared responsibility and everyone must play their part by not conducting any prohibited fire activity when a Total Fire Ban is in place.”
DFES will collaborate with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, WA Police and Local Governments who also have the authority to take action against Total Fire Ban breaches to ensure serious offences and repeat offenders are dealt with.
Total Fire Bans are broadcast the day before they come in to effect on emergency.wa.gov.au but could be declared at any time if weather conditions warrant it.
The ban prohibits lighting of any open air fires which includes deliberately lit fires, burn offs, cooking with open fire appliances, campfires, or carrying out business activities that could start a fire including incinerators, welding, grinding, soldering or gas cutting.
Visit the DFES website for information about Total Fire Bans, restrictions and industry exemptions.