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Prevention and responsibilities

This page has information about preventing and reducing the severity of bushfires in the Northern Territory (NT).

Notifying others

If you know of a fire on your property that is likely to spread to other land, you must try to control the fire. 

If you can't control the fire, you must by law immediately call emergency services by phoning 000 and contact neighbouring property holders.

Read about contacting emergency services.

The maximum penalty for not taking action is 500 penalty units or imprisonment for five years. 

Link to NT penalty units.

Firebreaks

Firebreaks are cleared trails around the perimeter of a property that can help prevent the spread of bushfire and enable vehicle access to fight fires.

They can also provide a life-saving escape route if things go wrong.

There is a requirement to establish firebreaks within a Fire Protection Zone. By law, it is your responsibility to install and maintain clear firebreaks on your property.

Did you know?

  • Firebreaks must be a minimum of 4m wide
  • Firebreaks must be installed around the perimeter of your property, as well as around your house or any other permanent structure, stationary engine or flammable materials?
  • Firebreaks should not have any vegetation more than 50mm high and free from slashed or dead material

If you do not establish or maintain firebreaks on your property you could be fined up to 20 penalty units and 2 penalty units for each day during which the offence continues..

An order can also be issued for Bushfires NT staff to enter your property and undertake the required works at your expense.

Prescribed burning

Burning to reduce fuel loads is a major component of the bushfire mitigation program across the NT.

This technique has proven highly effective in establishing areas of low or no fuel that contain the spread of bushfires and protect lives, property and the environment.

Prescribed burning is carried out from the air and on the ground.

For more information, contact Bushfires NT using the details on the volunteer with Bushfires NT page at the Northern Territory Government website. 

Aerial burning

Controlled burning from the air is carried-out every year in many regions of the NT, and reduces the number of and intensity of bushfires.

Aerial burning helps to reduce fuel loads, some of which are created by exotic grasses like mission and gamba grass.

These introduced grasses dry-off, fuelling intense and destructive bushfires during the fire season.

Fuel reduction burning

Fuel reduction burning is also carried out throughout the NT every year to reduce fuel loads and create strategic barriers against the spread of bushfires.

Engines and equipment 

To prevent fire risks, you must not start or drive a motor vehicle, or start an engine, unless it has an effective spark arrester. 

You must only use grinding, welding or cutting equipment in the open if you are sufficiently clear of flammable material. You should have firefighting equipment on hand.

Disposal of burning matter

It is an offence to dispose of any matter that is still burning or smouldering, such as a cigarette, by throwing it on the ground near flammable materials.

The maximum penalty for not thoroughly extinguishing disposable matter is a fine of 100 penalty units.