Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

Is your fire legal?

Burning-off, even in incinerators, in NSW is illegal, except in certain cases

Burning wood and rubbish in open fires and incinerators can cause smoke, which is a major cause of air pollution. It can harm the environment and your health.

Exposure to smoke can contribute to:

  • itchy or burning eyes and throat irritations
  • breathing difficulties and respiratory illnesses like bronchitis
  • headaches, fatigue or chest pain
  • decreased lung function in children.

There is evidence that smoke pollution can aggravate existing heart and lung problems like angina, emphysema and asthma.

To protect public health and the environment, there are only certain situations when fires can be lit in NSW. These are:

  • for hazard reduction work under the Rural Fires Act 1997
  • for recreational purposes such as barbecues or camping
  • for agricultural purposes (other than construction)
  • for fire fighting training provided by an official fire control officer, or
  • if you have approval from the EPA

No-burn Notices or Total Fire Bans override any permits obtained. If you are planning to light an outside fire you should check with EPA,  your local council or the NSW Rural Fire Service to make sure your fire is legal.

For more information call EPA's Environment Line on 131 555.

Page last updated: 24 June 2013