Permits and lighting fires
Find out when and where you need a permit to light a fire in the Northern Territory (NT).
When you need a permit
You must have a permit to light a fire in the following NT fire protection zones:
- Northern protection zone
- Katherine fire protection zone
- Tennant Creek fire protection zone
- Alice Springs fire protection zone
The only exception is for a cooking fire, provided you have a clear area 4m around the fire, it is always attended and it is thoroughly extinguished before you leave.
When conditions are safe, landowners outside of fire protection zones can use a fire to reduce fuel loads or create firebreaks, providing they can control the fire.
Penalty for not having a permit
If you light a fire without a permit in a fire protection zone you may be fined up to 500 penalty units or imprisoned for up to five years.
How to get a permit
In towns and built-up areas you can get a permit from the NT Fire and Rescue Service. Read more about permits to burn on the Police, Fire and Emergency Services website.
In rural fire protection zones you can get a permit from your local volunteer bushfire brigade or fire warden.
Changes to regular permit conditions
During fire season, further restrictions may apply to permits.
Fire danger periods
A fire danger period can be declared for either the whole or part of the Territory for a specific period of time. Any area specified under a declaration of fire danger period is known as a fire danger area.
During a fire danger period, all landowners within a fire danger area must have a permit to burn.
A fire ban may be declared for either the whole or part of the Territory for a period of up to 24 hours when fire conditions are very dangerous. Bans are announced on the local radio, Bushfires NT newsroom and by roadside signs in built-up areas. Fire Ban information is available at securent.nt.gov.au.
All permits to burn are void during a fire ban period.
If you are using fire immediately before a ban is declared, you must put the fire out. Careful use of cooking fires is allowed.
If you start a fire during a fire ban period, even if one starts from your cooking fire, you could be charged the maximum penalty or face imprisonment.