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 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 as well prepared as possible for the threat of bushfire. These mitigation measures are required by law and penalties of up to $5,000 may be issued if you don't take the necessary steps to prepare your property.

If you are unable to meet these requirements you may be eligible to apply for a variation. Please see the Variation to Fire Management Requirements section below.

Land owners and occupiers have a legal responsibility to prepare their property for the fire season. The fire mitigation requirements are listed in the City of Albany's Fire Management Notice which is distributed to households annually, and available to download on the link below.

The Notice is a legal document, issued under Section 33 of the Bush Fire Act 1954, which details the required mitigation measures that must be put in place, and maintained for the entire fire season.

The fire season runs from 1 November to 30 April in the north east sector of the City (east of Manypeaks) and from 1 December to 30 April in the south west sector of the City (west of Manypeaks).

If there is any conflict between the fire management requirements listed on this page and the provisions of the Local Planning Scheme, please contact the City of Albany for clarification.

Click on the link below to download the Fire Management Notice 2016/2017.

Fire breaks must be maintained from 1 November 2016 to 30 April 2017 inclusive in the North East sector and 1 December 2016 to 30 April 2017 inclusive in the South West sector.

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 –1 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 - 1.5 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 Breaks

Landowners or occupiers who have a strategic fire break on their property must maintain this fire break in accordance with the sub-division guide plans for their area. Strategic fire breaks do not replace the requirement for individual perimeter fire breaks unless specified in a Bushfire Management Plan.

Landowners or groups of landowners may apply to the City of Albany for permission to install strategic fire breaks in a specific area, rather than perimeter firebreaks. Strategic fire breaks may also be provided as part of the initial subdivision of an estate.

Strategic fire breaks shall be 6m wide with 4m vertical clearance and an all-weather vehicle running surface, as per the DFES Planning for Bush Fire Protection Guidelines.

If you have recently moved to an area with strategic fire access tracks or are unsure about strategic fire access tracks, please contact the City of Albany. 

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.

Low fuel loads must be maintained from 1 November 2016 to 30 April 2017 inclusive in the North East sector and 1 December 2016 to 30 April 2017 inclusive in the South West sector.

Asset Protection Zones must be maintained from 1 November 2016 to 30 April 2017 inclusive in the North East sector and 1 December 2016 to 30 April 2017 inclusive in the South West sector.

Asset protection zones (APZ) are required for all houses and outbuildings within the City of Albany, both residential and rural.

Building assets such as houses, sheds and outbuildings shall be  protected by reducing fuel loads for a minimum of 20 metres around each building. The creation of an APZ of this distance reduces the impact of direct flame and radiant heat on the building. 

The size of your APZ depends on if your house is situated on flat land or on a slope, as a bushfire will travel much quicker if burning up a slope. The following distances apply:

  • 0 – 10 degree slope = 20 meter APZ
  • 10 – 15 degree slope = 25 metre APZ
  • 15 – 20 degree slope = 30 metre APZ

Where the Albany Local Planning Scheme requires a larger APZ, then that provision will apply.

 APZs shall meet the following requirements:

  • shall be located within the boundaries of the lot on which the building is situated;
  • fine fuel load to be reduced to and maintained at no greater than 2 tonnes per hectare;
  • no trees or tall shrubs within 2 metres of the building;
  • no trees are to overhang the building;
  • trees (crowns) are to be a minimum distance of 10 metres apart. A small group of trees may be treated as one crown; and
  • keeping the grass short (no more than 50mm) and pruning scrub.

APZs can be achieved by implementing the following mitigation measures:

  • Cutting long grass and dense scrub and removing dead material.
  • Removing all rubbish and rake up leaf litter, twigs, bark and material that may catch fire.
  • Maintain a minimum two metre gap between your house and tree branches. Make sure that no trees overhang the house.
  • Pruning lower branches (up to two metres off the ground) to stop a fire on the ground spreading to the canopy of the trees.
  • Not clumping shrubs, ensuring that there is a gap between plants.
  • Planting shrubs at a distance of at least three times their height at maturity from buildings.

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

 

Bushfire Attack Level Setbacks

If your property was constructed after 1 April 2016 and is subject to a Bushfire Attack Level  (BAL) classification and setback you must maintain the setback areas as low threat vegetation.

New 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's website.

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 breaks, emergency access ways and fire service access routes that may be present on your property.

Where a variation to fire management requirements has been granted, any conditions applicable to the variation must be complied with.

In addition to the fire mitigation measures contained in the City of Albany's Fire Management Notice, the following requirements must be in place for cropping properties larger than 4,000m2:

  • Cropping paddocks must be broken into compartments not exceeding 250ha in area each separated by internal fire breaks.
  • A functioning fire fighting unit is to be available.
  • During harvesting operations, a fully operational fire fighting unit is to be located in the paddock being harvested.

All 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.

Additional Requirements:

Regeneration and Conservation lots must also:

  • 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.

If you are unable to comply with the fire management requirements contained in the City of Albany Fire Management Notice, you may be eligible for a variation for some of the fire management requirements. For example, variations may be approved where land is inaccessible due to it being rocky, steep, fragile or permanently water-logged.

All of the requirements stipulated in this Notice for which a variation has not been granted must be complied with.

Application forms must be received by the City by no later than 15 September 2016. Late applications may not be processed.

 

What is the City of Albany's Fire Management Notice?

The Fire Management Notice is a legal document that advises land owners and occupiers of the things they must do to prepare their properties for the fire season. It is sometimes referred to as the "fire break notice", however this term is misleading as the installation of fire breaks is only one of the required fire mitigation measures.

The authority for local governments to issue these instructions is provided under section 33 of the Bush Fires Act 1954. Landowners or occupiers who fail to comply with the conditions contained in the Fire Management Notice may be issued with a penalty of up to $5,000 under the Act.

Is this something new?

The City of Albany issues a Fire Management Notice every year prior to the fire season. However, some of the requirements in this year’s Notice are different to last year’s, so please take the time to read this year’s Notice carefully.

I didn’t know what the Notice was so I threw it in the bin. What do I do?

The City of Albany conducts a public awareness campaign to advise land owners and occupiers of their responsibilities for preparing their properties for the fire season. Not reading the Notice does not provide an excuse for not complying with the legal requirements contained in the Notice. The information is also available on the City of Albany website at www.albany.wa.gov.au or contact the City of Albany Rangers on 9841 9349 to request a replacement copy.

What do I do if I didn’t receive the Fire Management Notice?

The City posts a hard copy of the notice to all landowners. If you didn’t receive the Notice in the mail, you are still bound by the requirements of the Notice. The Notice is also available on our website www.albany.wa.gov.au or contact the City of Albany Rangers on 9841 9349 to request a replacement copy.

I live in town - do I need to comply with the Notice?

Yes. All residents who own or occupy land within the City of Albany area are required to ensure that they comply with the Notice; this includes the suburban areas.

What is the “Fire Season”?

The fire season refers to the period when bush fires are likely to start and spread rapidly which is determined by climatic factors. The City of Albany covers over 4,000km2, so people living in the north east section of the City experience different climatic conditions to those living in the south west corner. Therefore different fire season dates apply depending on where you live:
• North east sector – 1 November 2016 to 30 April 2017 (unless otherwise advised)
• South west sector – 1 December 2016 to 30 April 2017 (unless otherwise advised)

In addition, seasonal changes may impact on the fire season dates. For example, a late hot spell may cause the fire season dates to be extended. Any changes to the dates will be advertised in the local newspapers and on the City of Albany website.

I cannot meet the requirements by the due date deadline, can I get an extension?

Reducing the risk of bush fire is a shared responsibility between local government, state government agencies and the community: we all have our part to play. Land owners and occupiers are responsible for making sure their properties are compliant with the requirements of the Fire Management Notice by the due date to reduce the level of bush fire risk for the whole community and, therefore, extensions will not be granted.

What do I do if I can’t meet some or all of the Fire Management Requirements?

If you are unable to comply with some or all of the conditions contained in the Notice, you may be able to apply for a Variation to the Fire Management Notice.

How do I apply for a Variation to the Fire Management Notice?

Applications for a Variation can be obtained by:
• Downloading a form from the City’s website at www.albany.wa.gov.au
• In person from the City of Albany offices at 102 North Road, Yakamia.
• Email staff@albany.wa.gov.au.

How do I know if I’m eligible for a Variation?

Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis. For example, you may be eligible for a variation if your land is inaccessible due to it being rocky, steep, fragile or permanently water-logged or if you are unable to comply with the asset protection zone due to the distance between your house or outbuilding and your boundary.

How long does a Variation last?

Currently all variations will expire April 2018. The City will be reviewing this expiration date and holders of variations will be advised of any changes. Please ensure that you keep the City informed of any changes to your contact details so we can keep you informed.

Why do I have to keep applying for a Variation when my property never changes?

The fire management requirements determined by the City of Albany and contained in the Fire Management Notice may change from year to year. This means that land owners and occupiers need to read the Notice each year and determine if there are any of the requirements for which they need to seek a variation.

What is the cut-off date for Variations?
All forms must be received by the City of Albany no later than 15 September 2016. Late applications may not be considered.

How will I know if my application for a Variation has been approved?

The City of Albany Rangers will advise you in writing of the outcome of your application. Please note that all of the requirements stipulated in this Notice for which a variation has not been granted must be complied with.

What happens if my application for a Variation is declined?

You will be notified in writing and you will be required to comply with the conditions outlined in the Fire Management Notice before the due date.

Who can help me complete my Variation application?

There is information on the City of Albany website to assist you in completing your application. In addition your local Volunteer Fire Brigade Fire Control Officer may be able to assist or contact the City of Albany Rangers.

Do I need to maintain my firebreaks and low fuel zones throughout the whole fire season?

Yes. It is the owners or occupier’s responsibility to maintain their fire breaks and low fuel zones, including asset protection zones, until 30 April the following year (unless otherwise notified). This may mean slashing or spraying any re-growth.

Do I have to clear all vegetation around my house to put in an asset protection zone?
No, an asset protection zone (APZ) is a 20 metre low-fuel zone around your home, outbuildings and sheds. It can be achieved by:

  • Maintaining a minimum 2 metre gap between trees and the building. 
  • Make sure that no trees overhang the house.
  • Ensuring tree crowns are a minimum of 10 metres apart.
  • Ensuring there is a gap between shrubs and buildings of three times their mature height.
  • Ensuring shrubs aren’t planted in clumps.
  • Keeping the grass short and prune the scrub so that it is not dense, nor does it have fine, dead aerated material in the crown of the scrub.
  • Raking up leaf litter and twigs under trees and remove trailing bark.
  • Pruning lower branches (up to 2 metres off the ground) to stop a surface fire spreading to the canopy of the trees.
  • Creating a mineral earth firebreak.
  • Having your paths adjacent to the building and have your driveway placed so that it maximises the protection to the house.

I can’t put in a 20 metre asset protection zone as my block isn’t big enough. What do I do?

The asset protection zone (APZ) should be confined within the property boundary. For existing buildings that are located less than 20 metres from a property boundary, the AZP does not have to extend over that boundary.

How will reducing the fuel loads on my property make a difference if a bush fire comes through?

Reducing the fuel loads around your home means that embers from a bush fire will have less chance to catch fire when they hit the ground. This will also help reduce the damage caused by the fire and slow the rate of spread of the fire. The more you prepare your property the better the chance it will survive a bushfire, even if you are not there.

Why does a fire break have to be 3 metres wide with 4 metres vertical clearance?

This is the minimum width and height clearance require to allow a City of Albany fire appliance to access your property.

Do my fire breaks have to cover my whole property?

Perimeter fire breaks are required on properties larger than 4,000m2, and must be located as close as possible to the boundary. Where obstructions occur, the fire break should be constructed within 20 meters of the property boundary.

If there is a tree on my boundary that is obstructing the installation of a firebreak do I have to remove the tree?

No. You do not need to remove the tree. You can place a firebreak within 20 metres from your boundary.

What if my property is water-logged at the start of the fire season can I apply for a Variation for that period only?

While a portion of the property is water-logged, it will not burn and therefore does not constitute a fire risk. However, as the property dries out, then fire breaks are required to be installed as per the provisions of the Notice. Please note that compliance inspections are carried out at random and may occur at any time during the fire season.

My next door neighbour hasn’t installed their fire breaks. What can I do to report it and have them comply as well?

You can contact the City of Albany Rangers to lodge a complaint. They may then investigate the issue and take appropriate action.

I have animals grazing my paddocks. Do I still need to install a fire break?

If you are a bona fide primary producer and have animals grazing your paddocks as part of farming operations throughout the fire season and the grass is grazed to a height of 50mm or less, you may be able to apply for a variation to fire management requirements.

I have recently purchased a property and I was not aware of the fire management requirements. What do I do?

If you have recently purchased a property and you are unable to comply with the requirements contained in the Notice by the due date, please contact the City of Albany Ranger Team.

Can you recommend a fire break contractor?

The City is unable to recommend a particular contractor. However, check the ACCI directory under Firebreaks or Earthmoving for local contractors.

I have engaged a contractor to maintain my fire breaks for me, what do I need to do?

As the property owner or occupier you are responsible to ensure that the works completed by your contractor comply with the standards stipulated in the Notice.

I have engaged a contractor but he can’t put the fire breaks in in time. What do I need to do?

Fire break contractors do get very busy, so it is important that you book your contractor in good time to avoid receiving a penalty for non-compliance.

Where can I find more information about preparing my home for bush fires?

Please visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website at www.dfes.wa.gov.au.

What is a Bush Fire Management Plan?

Within the context of the Notice, a Bush Fire Management Plan is a document submitted by developers at the time of creating a new sub-division which provides details of the bush fire mitigation measures that are to be put in place for that sub-division. This may include strategic fire breaks, emergency access ways or fire service routes. The plan may also include areas that are to be maintained as low-threat vegetation.

It is important that land owners or occupiers are aware of the provisions of these plans and that any measures that have been put into place are maintained.

There is a strategic fire break in place for my sub-division. Do I still need to install perimeter fire breaks on my property?

Some sub-divisions may have strategic fire breaks in place as part of the Fire Management Plan for that area. Only properties that directly abut the strategic fire break are deemed to be covered by that fire break. All other requirements listed in the Notice must be complied with, which may include the need for the installation of a perimeter fire break.

Will anyone check my property?

The City of Albany Rangers will conduct random inspections of properties throughout the municipality to check for compliance with the fire management requirements. Please note that Ranges will be checking on compliance with ALL the fire mitigation requirements, not just perimeter fire breaks.

Can the Rangers enter my property without my permission?

Yes, under the Bush Fires Act 1954, as authorised Fire Control Officers, Rangers are permitted to enter your property to undertake inspections to ensure compliance with the City’s Fire Management Notice.

What happens if my property is not compliant?

The City of Albany considers non-compliance with the Fire Management Notice to be a serious offence as it compromises the safety of the whole community. If you fail to meet the requirements stipulated in the Notice, you may receive a $250 fine. You will then have seven days in which to ensure your property is compliant.

The property will be re-inspected after this period. If still non-compliant the City will engage a contractor to carry out the work and you will be billed for this work along with any associated administrative costs.

I received a fine at the end of the fire season. I cleared my block at the start of the fire season so why didn’t you check it then?

All landowners and occupiers have a responsibility to maintain their land in accordance with the fire management requirements throughout the fire season. Rangers will carry out inspections at any time during the fire season, and non-compliant properties may be subject to penalties, regardless of whether or not the block was previously compliant.

Why do the Rangers seem to be only inspecting my area and not others?

Rangers will carry out random inspections on properties throughout the municipality. Areas that are deemed to be of higher risk from bush fires may be assigned priority by the City. If you have any concerns regarding a property that may constitute a high bush fire risk, please contact the Rangers.

There is a City reserve that doesn’t have fire breaks, why do I need to have breaks if the City doesn’t comply?

Fire mitigation activities within the City of Albany reserves are directed by a comprehensive fire management plan that takes into account the risk of fire posed by each reserve to the community as well as environmental considerations. The City’s Reserves Team has an extensive hazard reduction programme in place for its reserves which include prescribed burns as well as mechanical mitigation measures.

The following measures are not required by law, but implementing them may help keep your home safe in the event of a bush fire:

  • Keep your gutters free of leaves and other combustible material.
  • Build your paths adjacent to the building and have your driveway placed so that it maximises the protection to the house.
  • If possible, plan your garden so that your vegetable garden, lawn, pool or patio is on the side of the house likely to face a fire (where the bush is).
  • Store firewood away from the building.
  • Ensure that your gas bottles are secured and positioned so that it will vent away from the building if it is subject to flame contact or radiant heat.
  • Ensure fences are non-combustible so they can help to shield your home from a bushfire and radiant heat.

For more information on protecting your home and family in the event of a bushfire, visit the Department of Fire & Emergency Services website on the link below.

Having a plan in place for what to do in case of a bushfire emergency is critical if you live in or near bushlands. Having a written bushfire survival plan in place, keeping it up to date and practicing it regularly can help save you and your family’s lives, your property and your livelihood.

Visit the Department of Fire & Emergency Services website for information on what you should include in your plan and sample plans.

Burning Periods

The following burning periods apply for 2016/17:

North East Sector:

  • 1 October to 14 November: Restricted Burning - Permits Required
  • 15 November to 28 February - BURNING PROHIBITED
  • 1 March to 30 April: Restricted Burning - Permits Required

South West Sector:

  • 1 November to 14 December: Restricted Burning - Permits Required
  • 15 December to 15 March:  BURNING PROHIBITED
  • 16 March to 30 April:  Restricted Burning - Permits Required

Seasonal conditions may result in variation to these dates. Any changes will be advertised in local newspapers and updated on this website.

Prohibited Burning Times

Under the Bush Fires Act 1954, it is an offence to light fires during the Prohibited Burning Time. Penalties of up to $10,000 fine or 12 months’ imprisonment or both may apply.

Restricted Burning Times

During Restricted Burning Times, permits are required to light a fire.

Burning Permits

Permits are issued subject to certain conditions which are listed on the permit. Failure to comply with all of these conditions may result in a fine of $250.  All permit holders must comply with the requirements of the Bush Fire Act 1954

Permits will not be issued to burn materials that can be disposed off in a green-waste bin. No permits will be issued Good Friday to Easter Monday (inclusive).

Please consider your neighbours when undertaking a burn and make sure that smoke doesn't drift onto roads causing a traffic hazard.

If you live within the DFES Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) district which covers the Albany town site and close adjacent areas, you can apply for a permit in person at our Administration Office at 102 North Road for an Application for Permit to Burn form or click on the link below to download a form.

If you live outside of this please contact your local Volunteer Bush Fire Control Officer for an application for a permit to burn.

Total Fire Ban
 A Total Fire Ban (TFB) may be declared by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) on days when fires are most likely to threaten lives and property. This is because of predicted adverse fire weather or when widespread fires are impacting the availability of resources.

During a TFB, the lighting of any fire in the open air is prohibited. This includes all open cooking and camping fires and incinerators. It also includes ‘hot work’ such as welding, grinding and soldering or gas cutting. The penalty is a fine of $25,000 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both.

TFBs are announced on the DFES website, on ABC Radio and the DFES Twitter feed. You can find out more about TFBs by visiting the DFES website.

Harvest and Vehicle Movement Bans

The City of Albany may impose Harvest and/or Vehicle Movement Bans when adverse fire weather conditions are experienced. The City will consult with Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades' weather officers to determine if a ban is warranted.

During harvest bans all harvesting operations must immediately cease. No harvesting is permitted on Christmas Day.

A vehicle movement ban means no internal combustion powered vehicles are to be driven in paddocks or bush areas and ‘hot work’ such as welding or grinding is not to be undertaken in the open air. 

Communication of Fire Bans

All bans will be communicated via ABC local radio on 558AM or 630AM 10:05am, 12:35pm and 2:05pm and posted on the DFES and City of Albany websites.

If you are a farmer or a contractor and would like to receive notification by SMS notification of Harvest or Vehicle Movement Bans direct to your mobile phone email emergencyservices@albany.wa.gov.au with your name, organisation name and mobile number.

The City of Albany carries out a program of prescribed burns on its reserves during the autumn and winter months. Burns are carried out subject to weather and volunteer availability.   The map below shows the current planned prescribed burns.  Click on the markers on the map to display a link to a detailed map of the planned burn.