Burning off regulations: your questions answered
What is burning off?
“Burning off” is a common term use to describe a fire in the open air. This may include conducting a vegetation or stubble burn across your farm or property, as well as burning branches, leaves and waste that you have collected and heaped together.
DEPI’s fire restrictions are the provisions defined in the Forests Act 1958 and the Forests (Fire Protection) Regulations 2004. The information provided here is taken from these laws.
Do DEPI’s restrictions apply to me?
The regulations that apply depend on where and when you want to “burn off”.
If your land is within 1.5km of public land (such as State forest or National Park) in Gippsland or north-east Victoria (the “Fire Protected Area”), then DEPI’s restrictions may apply.
The best way to identify whether your land falls within the Fire Protected Area is to ask at your local DEPI office.
What other restrictions may apply?
Most other land (ie. land not in a Fire Protected Area) in the country area of Victoria is likely to be subject to Country Fire Authority restrictions. Please refer to the CFA website for details of CFA fire restrictions.
Municipal councils also have local laws or by-laws that restrict the use of fire, whether you are in the Fire Protected Area or the CFA Country Area of Victoria – check with your local council.
Where in Gippsland and north-east Victoria does the Fire Protected Area apply?
Municipalities (shires, cities and rural cities) where the Fire Protected Area applies are:
- Gippsland: Baw Baw, East Gippsland, La Trobe and Wellington.
- North-east Victoria: Alpine, Benalla, Indigo, Mansfield, Mitchell, Murrindindi, Strathbogie, Towong, Wangaratta and Wodonga.
- Alpine Resorts: Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek
When do DEPI’s fire restrictions apply?
If the land falls within the Fire Protected Area, seasonal DEPI restrictions will apply. This is called the “Prohibited Period”. The restrictions usually come into force from Spring to Autumn on specified dates. The dates vary from year to year depending on the fire risk. Check the DEPI website or with your local DEPI office whether the restrictions are in force.
CFA’s seasonal restrictions are known as the “Fire Danger Period”. The Prohibited Period and the CFA Fire Danger period are usually come into force at the same time in a given municipality.
What if DEPI’s restrictions are in force?
During the Prohibited Period, certain restrictions are placed on the use of fire, including “burning off”. To burn off during this period you will require a written permit from DEPI. Contact your local DEPI office to apply for a permit.
A DEPI Authorised Officer will assess the fire risk in relation to weather and site conditions, and may issue you with a permit. Permits specify certain conditions to be met before you light your burn.
Compliance with the permit conditions does not itself release you from liability (civil or criminal) for any damage sustained by another person as a result of any fire lit by the permit holder pursuant to this permit.
Conducting a safe burn is the landholder’s responsibility. You may be subject to charges under other Victorian law, such as the Summary Offences Act, if your burn-off escapes or causes damage to others’ property.
What if DEPI’s restrictions are not in force?
When the Prohibited Period is not in force, you may burn off without a permit.
Conducting a safe burn is the landholder’s responsibility. You may be subject to charges under the Summary Offences Act if your burn-off escapes or causes damage to others’ property.
Can I burn off on a day of Total Fire Ban?
Burning off is not permitted on days of Total Fire Ban, irrespective of whether a Prohibited Period is in force or not, and whether or not you hold a permit related to the Prohibited Period.
Can I be required to remove a fire hazard on my property?
Yes, an officer from the Department of Sustainability & Environment, Country Fire Authority or a municipal council may require you to remove or reduce a fire hazard on your land.