$1000 on-the-spot fines for breaching total fire bans

Photo: The Department of Fire and Emergency Services
Photo: The Department of Fire and Emergency Services

People who ignore total fire bans face a $1000 on-the-spot fine under new penalties announced today.

The penalties can be issued by local governments, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and WA Police.

Last bushfire season, 76 fires started on total fire ban days as a result of people ignoring the ban and undertaking activities such as burn offs, campfires or using machinery that created sparks such as angle grinding or welding.

Total fire bans are declared on days when fires will be very difficult to control and are most likely to threaten lives.

Total fire bans prohibit lighting open air fires which includes deliberately lit fires, burn offs, cooking with open-fire appliances or campfires.

They also prohibit the carrying out of business activities that could start a fire including incinerators, welding, grinding, soldering or gas cutting.

Agencies can also take further action to prosecute repeat offenders or more serious offences with a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment for 12 months.

“Total fire bans are issued to protect the community and our emergency services personnel on days when weather conditions will make bushfires extremely hard to control or firefighting resources are stretched,” Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan said.

“During the 2016-17 bushfire season almost one third of out-of-control fires on total fire ban days started as a result of banned fire activities – this is unacceptable and we are taking a tougher stance on people who ignore total fire bans this summer.”

To find out if a Total Fire Ban has been declared in your area visit the Emergency WA website at http://www.emergency.wa.gov.au, call the Total Fire Ban hotline on 1800 709 355 or follow DFES on Twitter or Facebook.