Fire Management Notice

FIRE MANAGEMENT NOTICE

Bushfires are a part of every Australian summer, even in the cooler part of WA. Bushfires can start without warning, move quickly and spread over large areas. The effects can be devastating and have a long-lasting impact on communities and the environment.

Managing the risk of bushfire is a shared responsibility: local government, state government agencies and the community all need to do their part. This page contains important information on what you need to do to ensure your property is well prepared for the threat of bushfire.

The Fire Management Notice is issued under Section 33 of the Bush Fire Act 1954. The fire mitigation measures contained in the Notice are required by law and penalties of up to $5,000 may be issued for non-compliance.

The fire mitigation measures must remain in place for the following times (unless otherwise advertised:

1 November to 30 April in the north east sector of the City (east of Manypeaks)

1 December to 30 May in the south west sector of the City (west of Manypeaks).

Click on the link below to download the Fire Management Notice 2018/19.

Fire Management Notice 2018/19

Variation to Fire Management Requirements

The City recognises that in some instances, land owners or occupiers may not be able to meet all of the fire management measures listed in the Fire Management Notice. In this case, you must apply for a Variation to Fire Management Requirements to seek approval to implement alternative fire mitigation measures. 

Your application must include supporting evidence of your capacity to prevent the start and spread of bushfire, which are at least as effective as the measures required in the Notice.

Variation to Fire Management Requirements Application Form

A Variation may be considered for the following reasons:

  • Property is steep and inaccessible and the installation of firebreaks or other fire mitigation measures would be dangerous or impractical.
  • Areas of rocky outcrops or cap stone naturally reduces the fire risk or prevents fire breaks from being installed.
  • Parts of the property is permanently water logged. (If only seasonally water logged, the Fire Management Requirements must be met as soon as the area has dried out sufficiently.)
  • Clearing of vegetation is likely to impact upon areas of declared rare flora or environmentally sensitive areas as defined under the Environmental Protection (Clearing of Native Vegetation) Regulations 2004.
  • Building positioning on block prevents the installation of an Asset Protection Zone of the required size.
  • For properties over 100ha that are bona fide agricultural operations:
    • the grazing of stock that results in grassland being maintained at a height of 50mm or less;
    • seasonal cropping that results in low fuel load being maintained. (Please note that the fire management requirements relating to Agricultural and Machinery Operations must be complied with.); and/or
    • heavy machinery available on the property to prevent the spread of fire (e.g. bulldozer, grader, plough, scarifier or front end loader).

A Variation may be:

  • approved, declined or approved subject to special conditions being met;
  • approved for a portion of a property only, with the requirements of the Notice applying to the remainder of the property;
  • approved "in perpetuity" until the ownership of the property changes;
  • approved for a limited time (where the Variation includes an expiry date, it is the applicant’s responsibility to note this date and submit a new application prior to the expiry date); or
  • be declined (the applicant is to comply with requirements of the Notice).

Where a variation has been approved, any special conditions that have been placed on the variation must be complied with. Any requirements stipulated in the Notice for which a variation has not been granted must still be met.

How to apply:

  • Fill in a Variation to Fire Management form and include a detailed, legible map showing alternative fire mitigation measures. (Please note that incomplete applications will not be processed.)
  • Applications can only be made by land owners or by a person authorised to act on their behalf.
  • The City will notify the applicant in writing of the outcome of the application.
  • Where a fire management plan is provided as part of the application, it must be completed by an accredited Bushfire Planning and Design (BPAD) practitioner. Visit the Fire Protection Association (FPA) Australia at http://www.fpaa.com.au/bpad/practitioners.aspx to contact a BPAD practitioner.

Special Residential, Rural Residential & Conservation Zoned Properties

If your property is zoned Special Residential, Rural Residential (Special Rural) or Conservation zones, it may be subject to zone-specific fire mitigation requirements that must be complied with. These measures can be contained in the Albany Local Planning Scheme, the subdivision guide plan (structure plan) or an approved bush fire management plan.

These additional fire mitigation measures may include (but are not limited to):

  • Compliant access to dwellings.
  • Permanent water supply.
  • Maintenance of Strategic Fire Access Routes).

If you're unsure about the zoning of your property, visit the City's online map module. For more information regarding zone-specific fire management measures, contact the City of Albany Planning Department.

Properties up to 4,000 m2

(Excluding Conservation, Special Residential and Rural Residential zoned Properties.)

The following fire mitigation measures apply to vacant and developed land measuring up to and including 4,000m2 in area:

  • Clear and maintain the land free of all flammable matter, including piles of timber (excluding firewood during late autumn and winter), branches and other dried vegetation matter.
  • Install hazard specific fire breaks (see page 10).
  • Shrubs should not be located under trees or within 3 metres of buildings. They are to be maintained and pruned to remove dead material.
  • Trees are to be pruned and maintained to the following standard:
  • Branches must be removed or pruned to ensure a separation of at least 3 metres from the eaves of all buildings and 5 metres above the top of the roof.
  • Branches that may fall on the house must be removed.
  • Clearance of 2.5 metres between trees and power lines to avoid contact that may start a fire or bring down a power line.
  • The spacing of individual or groups of trees should be 15 metres apart to provide for a 5 metres separation between tree crowns. Canopy cover should aim to be no more than 15%.

Properties over 4,000m2 and less than 100Ha

(Excluding Conservation, Special Residential and Rural Residential zoned Properties)

(See also Agricultural and Machinery Operations requirements.)

  • Perimeter fire breaks
  • Hazard specific fire breaks
  • Maintaining fuel load to an average of 8 tonnes per hectare or less.
  • Asset Protection Zone (for dwellings, outbuildings and other agricultural infrastructure.

Properties over 100Ha

(Excluding Conservation, Special Residential and Rural Residential zoned Properties)

Farming Properties

(See also Agricultural and Machinery Operations requirements)

The following measures are required:

  • Perimeter fire breaks.
  • A bare-earth, 3 metre wide fire break with 5 metre vertical clearance is to be constructed within 100 metres of all buildings, haystacks, stockpiled flammable matter and fuel dumps. It must be constructed to provide unrestricted vehicular access.
  • Install Hazard Specific Fire Breaks

The City of Albany recognises that some agricultural operations, by the nature of the agricultural activities carried out such as grazing or cropping, reduce the risk of the outbreak or spread of bush fire. On those properties, the reduced fire risk may mean that perimeter fire breaks are not required. However, you will need to apply for a Variation to Requirements.

Non-Agricultural Properties

  • Perimeter fire breaks or an approved variation to requirements supported by a fire management plan that provides evidence of your capacity to prevent and control the outbreak and spread of bushfire.
  • A bare-earth, 3 metre wide fire break with 5 metre vertical clearance is to be constructed within 100 metres of all buildings, haystacks, stockpiled flammable matter and fuel dumps. It must be constructed to provide unrestricted vehicular access.
  • Hazard Specific Fire Breaks.

Agricultural and Machinery Operations

The following requirements apply to agricultural operations:

  • Cropping paddocks must be broken into compartments not exceeding 250ha in area each separated by internal fire breaks.
  • During harvest operations a fully operational self-propelled (i.e. not trailer mounted) fire fighting unit with a minimum water capacity of 600 litres is to be located in the paddock being harvested.
  • Where two or more harvesting machines are operating, the minimum water capacity is to be 1,000 litres.
  • During restricted and prohibited burning times, all harvesting machinery must carry a fire extinguisher. The minimum standard is a 9 litre water extinguisher.
  • During restricted and prohibited burning times, all tractors and trucks involved in harvesting operations are to carry a hand-held fire extinguisher.

Plantation and Regeneration Blocks

Owners and lessee of plantations and regeneration blocks must comply with the conditions detailed in the DFES’s Plantation Fire Protection Guidelines unless approval to vary those conditions has been granted by the City of Albany. Copies of the guidelines are available from the DFES website.

The following measures are also required (unless a Variation to Requirements has been granted):

  • provide a key to access gates to their local Bush Fire Brigade;
  • provide a red PVC container at entry points with maps showing water points, tracks and contact details;
  • have perimeter fire breaks 10m wide 4 metre vertical clearance;
  • be broken into compartments not exceeding 250ha in area separated by internal fire breaks 6 metres wide and with a 4 metre vertical clearance; and
  • install a 15 metre mineral earth break under any power lines.

Asset Protection Zones

An asset protection zone (APZ) is an area surrounding a building that is managed to reduce the bushfire hazard to an acceptable level, and generally consist of managed vegetation, reticulated lawns and gardens and other non-flammable features.

Houses constructed after 2015 should maintain an APZ as per the Bush Fire Attack Level (BAL) report prepared as part of Planning and Building approvals.

Houses constructed before 2015 should have an APZ of 20m (or to the boundary of the property where a 20m distance cannot be achieved). It is important to note that the 20m clearing may not be enough to provide adequate protection and an additional distance should be cleared where possible to ideally meet the BAL29 standard, please consult a bushfire consultant to assist you with calculation (http://www.fpaa.com.au/bpad/practitioners.aspx.)

On sloping ground the APZ distance shall increase at least 1 metre for every degree in slope on the sides of the habitable building that are exposed to down slope natural vegetation.

If there are special bush fire management measures that apply to your property under the Albany Local Planning Scheme, the subdivision guide plan (structure plan) or an approved Bushfire Management Plan, the APZ and hazard separation zones defined in those documents are to be complied with.

If you are unsure if your property is subject to any special bush fire management requirements, please contact the City of Albany Planning team.

APZ Standards

The following information provides additional information regarding ways to meet the requirements of this Notice.

  • Trees (> 5 metres in height): trunks at maturity should be a minimum distance of 6 metres from all buildings, branches should not touch or overhang the building, lower branches should be removed to a height of 2 metres above the ground or surface vegetation, canopy cover should be less than 15% at maturity be at least 5 metres apart so as to not form a continuous canopy.

Tree Canopy Cover

  • Shrubs (0.5 metres to 5 metres in height): should not be located under trees or within 3 metres of buildings, should not be planted in clumps greater than 5m2 in area, clumps of shrubs should be separated from each other and any exposed window or door by at least 10 metres. Shrubs greater than 5 metres in height are to be treated as trees.
  • Ground covers (<0.5 metres in height): can be planted under trees but must be maintained to remove dead plant material and any parts within 2 metres of a structure, but 3 metres from windows or doors if greater than 100 millimetres in height.
  • Grass: should be managed to maintain a height of 100 millimetres or less.
  • Fences: within the APZ are constructed from non-combustible materials (e.g. iron, brick, limestone, metal post and wire). It is recommended that non-combustible perimeter fences are used.
  • Objects within 10 metres of a building: combustible objects must not be located close to windows and doors.
  • Fine fuel load: combustible dead vegetation matter less than 6 millimetres in thickness should be reduced to and maintained at an average of two tonnes per hectare.

Low Fuel Loads

Fuel loads refers to the amount of flammable material available for a fire to burn and is measured by the amount of available fuel per unit area. Reducing fuel around your property may help protect your home from bush fire.

The intensity (heat) and rate of spread of bushfire is influenced by the amount of fuel (vegetation) available to burn. If the amount of fuel around your property is reduced, a bushfire will burn more slowly and generate less intense heat. This will reduce the impact of the bushfire on life and property and assist fire managers in suppressing the bushfire.

Fuel loads are to be maintained at or below 8 tonnes per hectare. This is equal to 8 handfuls of flammable material per square metre.

Low fuel loads can be achieved by the following measures;

  • slashing vegetation on the whole block to a height not exceeding 50mm; or
  • conducting parkland clearing, which is the removal of vegetation to a maximum height of 50mm but leaving trees in place; or
  • hazard reduction burning.

Fire Breaks

Perimeter Fire Breaks

Perimeter fire breaks are required on properties larger than 4,000m2.

  • Fire breaks must be 3 metres wide with 4 metres vertical clearance.
  • The land must be ploughed, cultivated, scarified, chemically sprayed, slashed or otherwise cleared to a maximum vegetation height of 50mm.
  • Any overhanging branches, trees, shrubs must be cleared to a vertical height of 4m over the designated fire break.
  • A perimeter fire break should be constructed as close as possible to the property boundary and must be placed within 20 metres of the property boundary.
  • Fire breaks longer than 400m should include a fire appliance turning area of at least 10 metre diameter at appropriate locations to allow fire vehicles to safely exit a property.

Hazard Specific Fire Breaks

If you have any of the following on your property, regardless of the property size, fire breaks must be constructed around them as follows:

  • Green power domes –3 metre fire break
  • Wood heaps and hay stacks – 3 metre fire break
  • Fuel storage areas – 3 metre fire break
  • Garden refuse piles – 3 metre fire break
  • Power poles - 2.5 metre fire break

Fire Break Standards are Your Responsibility

If a contractor has been engaged to install fire breaks on a property, the landowner/occupier is responsible for ensuring that the fire break meets the required standards.

Strategic Fire Access Route (Strategic Fire Break)

A Strategic Fire Access Route (SFAR), previously referred to as Strategic Fire Break, is both a major fire access road and a major fire break designed to allow a heavy duty fire appliance to access properties.

Where a SAFR is located on your property, you will be required to install and maintain it, to the satisfaction of the City.

SFAR do not replace the requirement for individual perimeter fire breaks unless this is specified in an approved Bushfire Management Plan.

It must not be obstructed by buildings, fences, tree planting and so on. Unlocked gates are to be provided on property boundaries where the SFAR crosses.

Strategic Fire Access Routes must meet the following conditions:

  • be a minimum of 6m wide
  • be maintained clear of all fire fuel
  • have an all-weather trafficable surface of at least 4m
  • have a vertical clearance of at least 4.5m
  • include a turning area (minimum radius of 10m) approximately every 500m
  • have places installed every 100m, which should be 20m long and 6m wide.

Details of the locations of SFARs are included in Bushfire Management Plans and sub-division guide plans or can be obtained from the City of Albany Planning Department.

Bushfire Management Plans

Where an approved Bushfire Management Plan is in place, all properties covered by the Plan are to comply with the conditions of that Plan.

This includes maintenance of all strategic fire access tracks, emergency access ways and fire service access routes that may be present on your property. If you are unsure if your property is covered by a Bushfire Management Plan, please contact the City of Albany Planning Department.

Please note that a Bush Fire Management plan approved by the City can be used to set the standard for or vary the fire management notice for an individual property or for a number of properties.

If you are unsure if your property is covered by a Bushfire Management Plan, please contact the City of Albany.

Bush Fire Prone Areas

Houses located in bush fire prone areas constructed after April 2016, or any extensions built from that time, must comply with the Department of Planning’s State Planning Policy 3.7. These dwellings shall comply with the definition of APZ as per section A2.1 of the Department of Planning’s Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas.

For more information visit the Department of Planning website.

A map of bush fire prone areas is available on the DFES website.

For more information visit the Department of Fire & Emergency Services Building Protection Zone webpage.