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Burning and Fire Prevention

Fire danger season

Dates for the 2020/21 Fire Danger Season has been officially declared.

The 2020/21 Fire Danger Season for the Mount Lofty Ranges, which includes the City of Victor Harbor council area, runs from 1 December 2020 until 30 April 2021.

Further information about Fire Danger Season is available at

Fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

Bushfire prevention is a year-round responsibility for property owners in Victor Harbor.

Council encourages all property owners and occupiers to prepare for the fire season by cleaning up around their homes. You can reduce the risk of fire impacting your property by doing simple things to reduce fine fuels. This means clearing vegetation near your home, ensuring grass is mowed and maintained, clearing gutters etc.

The CFS website is an excellent guide to bushfire safety  –  it can assist you make that decision and assist you with the steps in preparing yourself, your home and family.

Property owner responsibilities

Did you know that as a property owner you have a duty to prevent the occurrence or spread of fire through land, whether you are a residential or rural land owner with a dwelling or even vacant land. This is part of the South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Act (Part 3 Division 8 and Part 4 Division 7 and 8).

The SA Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005 (Country Fire Service part) states under Section 105F that -

(1) An owner of private land must take reasonable steps-

(a) to prevent or inhibit the outbreak of fire on the land; and

(b) to prevent or inhibit the spread of fire through the land; and

(c) to protect property on the land from fire; and

(d) to minimise the threat to human life from a fire on the land.

Maximum penalty: $5,000

Throughout the year it is always time to look at measures that can be implemented for the protection of life and property through fire prevention measures.  This entails ensuring all flammable material is cleared from around dwellings; rural properties ensuring proper land management principles are adhered to, to stop the spread of fire through their property while adhering to the Native Vegetation Act for fire breaks etc.

Bushfire protection

In the garden and around the home:

  • Cut down grass and clear away any fallen branches, leaves and dead undergrowth within 20 metres of the home.
  • Prune lower branches less than 1 metre above the ground to provide a vertical fuel break to help prevent ground fires from spreading into trees.
  • Remove any mulch to at least 1 metre from any dwelling wall and move woodpiles away from the dwellings.
  • Ensure all gutters are kept clear of leaves and twigs.

Rural Living - On rural properties, prepare and maintain fuel breaks around fence lines, buildings, equipment sheds, haystacks, hay sheds and fuel supplies.

Fuel reduction on vacant allotments greater than 0.03 hectares in size. It is considered that a mown or ploughed firebreak be constructed around the perimeter of the block of land to the minimum width of 4 metres. The flammable growth on the firebreak is to be maintained to maximum height of 10cms for the duration of the fire danger season.

Township land clearance program

Council undertakes an annual township vacant land clearance program, which commences in the second week of October each year. This involves the inspection of township properties and some rural allotments, under the provisions of Section 105 of South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005.

Council has the legal ability to issue a Section 105F hazard reduction notice if:

  • 'the Council believes that the conditions on private land in a fire district are as such as to cause an unreasonable risk by the outbreak of fire on the land, or the spread of fire through the land, due to the presence of flammable undergrowth or other flammable or combustible materials or substances'.

It is the landowners responsibility to comply with the requirements of the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005. Failure to comply with the directions, as set out on the hazard reduction notice will result in the property owner incurring an expiation of $315.00, plus the recovery cost incurred by Council, for carrying out the work as set out in the notice.

It is recommended that property owners keep the height of grass on their property to a maximum height of 10 centimetres for the duration of the fire danger season.

View the township land clearance program information sheet.

Burning in the open

On 1st July 2017, the EPA introduced the EPA Air Quality Policy in South Australia which relates to the burning of dry material in the open within the township residential areas. These new laws aim to minimise the smoke impact on residents while keeping the air clean and  the community safe.

A permit may be required

The law means that a burning permit is now required, if you wish to burn in the open in a residential part of the Victor Harbor township. View a map that outlines the township boundary and where permits are required.

No permit is required if you live in a section of the Council which is zoned as Rural or Rural Living. Rural property owners do need to abide by the CFS codes of practice for Broad Acre Burning or Vegetation Rubbish Pile Burning - please see the South Australia Country Fire Service website for copies of these Codes of Practice.

If a permit is issued for burning within the township residential area, burning can only be undertaken during the hours of 10am and 3pm, Monday to Saturday. No Burning is permitted on Sundays.

Applying for a permit

Download and complete the permit application form, or collect a hard copy form from the Council Civic Centre situated at 1 Bay Road, Victor Harbor.

There is no cost to apply for a permit. Please be aware it can take up to seven (7) days to process applications, however Council staff try to process them on a daily basis where ever possible.

Be safe and considerate

When burning in the open you need to take into the consideration:

  • Burning must be done in accordance with CFS Codes of Practice for Broad Acre Burning or Vegetation Rubbish Pile Burning
  • All vegetation to be burnt should be dead and completely dry – do not burn green vegetation
  • Weather conditions must be considered before lighting, preferably choosing a cool and calm day
  • Give fires maximum air-flow for efficiency, resulting in less smoke
  • Do not cause a smoke nuisance to your neighbours.

Burning as a last resort

Before applying for a permit to burn in the open, have your considered alternatives?

  • Garden and general household waste can be taken to the Goolwa Waste and Recycling Depot
  • Use your green organics kerbside bin
  • Compost green organics in your garden.

Comfort Fires

On total fire ban days, you cannot light a fire for warmth or comfort.

However, if it is not a total fire ban day, you may have a comfort fire providing that:

  • The fire is in a 30cm deep trench and no more than one (1) square metre in area
  • You have a four (4) metre clearance around and above the fire
  • A responsible person is in attendance at all times with water and/or an appropriate extinguisher.

Please note that only charcoal is allowed to be burnt for comfort fires within a metropolitan area or within township boundaries by the EPA Legislation.

The use of above ground fires such as chimineas, fire drums, braziers are only permitted with the use of permits.

Got a question?

Contact Council’s Fire Prevention Officer on (08) 8551 0500.

Useful links

South Australia Country Fire Service