Community FAQs

Have a question? You may find it below. If not, please get in touch with us.

Please Read.

The information provided on this page is NOT a replacement for the information on the RFS web-site. If there is any conflict, the RFS web site information takes precedence. Some information is repeated on this page. That is because people in a hurry may look to a specific question and not read all questions and answers. That is why self-protection clothing and equipment is repeated in more than one answer.

Community FAQs

Everything you’ll need to know about fire and the community.

From Sept 1 2022 there is a change Fire Danger Ratings to what is displayed on roadside Fire Danger Rating signs. Fire danger ratings now describe the potential level of danger should a bushfire start in that area. They provide both information and action required to protect you from the potentially dangerous impacts of the identified bushfire risk. They do not indicate the chance of a fire occurring.

Fire Danger Ratings now have four levels – Moderate, High, Extreme and Catastrophic.

When there is minimal risk, Fire Danger Rating signs will be set to ‘No rating’. This is the white wedge sitting under Moderate.

Plan and prepare.

    • Stay up to date and be ready to act if there is a fire.

Be ready to act.

  • There’s a heightened risk. Be alert for fires in your area.
  • Decide what you will do if a fire starts.
  • If a fire starts, your life and property may be at risk. The safest option is to avoid bush fire risk areas.

Take action now to protect your life and property.

  • These are dangerous fire conditions.
  • Check your bush fire plan and ensure that your property is fire ready.
  • If a fire starts, take immediate action. If you and your property are not prepared to the highest level, go to a safer location well before the fire impacts.
  • Reconsider travel through bush fire risk areas.

For your survival leave bush fire risk areas.

  • These are the most dangerous conditions for a fire.
  • Your life may depend on the decisions you make, even before there is a fire.
  • Stay safe by going to a safer location early in the morning or the night before.
  • Homes cannot withstand fires in these conditions.
  • You may not be able to leave, and help may not be available.

Examples of Fire Danger Rating signs are shown below.

This FAQ will be updated with appropriate links to RFS website later in September 2022.

The Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS) informs you of the class of fire that to expect IF a fire breaks out on that day. This is based on many factors including wind strength, the day’s temperatures, and the local vegetation and humidity. The RFS also issues Warnings for localities where a fire is currently burning. For more information see FAQ 2

To put these together, an example is that we have an AFDRS for the Lithgow area that is HIGH. All Lithgow area residents should Be ready to act. That afternoon a fire starts on Blackheath Creek Road. The fire is very fierce and not controlled. The RFS issues an Emergency Warning to residents of Blackheath Creek Road. This local fire does not change the AFDRS rating for Lithgow.

The RFS may issue Warnings for localities where a fire is currently burning. Warnings differ from the Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS) explained in FAQ 1.

For example, we have an AFDRS for the Lithgow area that is HIGH. All Lithgow area residents should take is Be ready to act. That afternoon a fire starts on Blackheath Creek Road. The fire is very fierce and not controlled. The RFS issues an Emergency Warning to residents of Blackheath Creek Road. This does not change the AFDRS – which is the Lithgow area fire risk. The Warning is specific to the residents of Blackheath Creek Road.

There are three levels of warning – AdviceWatch and Act and Emergency.

ADVICE Warning means
  • A bushfire has started
  • There is no identified danger to lives or property.
  • An Advice warning can change to Watch and Act very quickly.
WATCH AND ACT Warning means
Listen to radio and television broadcasts about bushfires. Check Fires Near Me on the RFS website or Fires Near Me app .
  • Gather up your family and critical belongings
  • Get everyone dressed in suitable clothing such as:
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts
  • Long cotton trousers.
  • Protective gloves
  • Face (smoke) masks [PS2].
  • Goggles
  • Stout shoes or boots.
If you plan to LEAVE EARLY, do so NOW! Otherwise, prepare to depart at very short notice.
  • Know how to get to your chosen safe place.
  • Check traffic conditions for routes blocked by fallen trees, smoke and fire using the Live Traffic NSW website or the Live Traffic NSW app.

If you plan to stay, check your fire pumps, hoses and bush fire defence plan.

EMERGENCY Warning means
  • This is the highest level of warning.
  • You are in a dangerous situation.
  • You must take immediate action.

LISTEN to radio or television broadcasts to decide:

  • If you can still escape to safety or
  • You must take shelter where you are.
  • Do not expect a fire truck to show up at your home.
  • Post the Fact Sheet in a prominent position in your home.

You should have made a “Bush Fire Survival Plan” in advance and considered whether your are staying and defending or leaving – For more information click BUSH FIRE SURVIVAL PLAN.

In any event you should take the following protective measures

Dress everyone in your family in:
• Long-sleeved cotton shirts.
• Long cotton trousers.
• Protective gloves.
• Face (smoke) masks [PS2]
• Goggles
• Stout shoes or boots.

Make sure you ready pumps, hoses and access to water.

If you are going to leave:
• Update your knowledge with current radio and television broadcasts about the bushfire.
• Check Fires Near Me on the RFS website or the Fires Near Me app.
• Make sure Fire Blankets or pure wool blankets are in the vehicle.
• Check the road you plan to escape on is not blocked by fire, smoke or fallen trees using the link to Live Traffic
• The home page contains links to key resources.

Know these facts:-
• Embers can travel up to 40 kilometres ahead of the bush fire front.
• A bush fire can travel at over 25 kilometres per hour.
• A bush fire will double its speed and increase in intensity for every 10 degrees of an uphill grade.
• Do not expect a fire truck to show up at your home.

  • Click on RFS PLAN AND PREPARE guidelines and select Prepare Your Home
  • If your property is large click on RFS FARM FIREWISE and use those guidelines.
  • Carry out the directions in the RFS Prepare Your Home document.

For everyone in your family provide:

  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts.
  • Long cotton trousers.
  • Protective gloves.
  • Face (smoke) masks [PS2]
  • Goggles
  • Stout shoes or boots.
  • Try to obtain several fire blankets or pure wool blankets.

Have the following nearby and ready:

  • A (preferably) diesel fire-pump as diesel is less flammable.
  • Suitable long hoses and fittings
  • Fire-fighting foam. Do not spray the foam on your roof because it will contaminate the tank water.

Decide where you will shelter if it is too late to leave.

    • Do not shelter in bushland, wooden houses, sheds or on uphill slopes.
    • Shelter in a modern brick structure if you can.

You must obtain a Fire Permit (approval to light a fire in the open) during the Bush Fire Danger period between 1 October and 31 March each year.

  • The period can vary with local conditions.
  • You must obtain a permit at any other time if your fire is likely to endanger a building or is in an NSW Fire and Rescue District
For more information click FIRE PERMITS
To submit a request click NOTIFY
  • You may either:
  • To obtain a permit either contact the Lithgow Fire Control Centre, 4 Silcock Street, Lithgow, NSW 2790  by phone 1300 258 737 or fax 02 6332 8554 or, notify the RFS using the form available by clicking on the link NOTIFY
  • The Fire Control Centre will arrange for one of  Kanimbla’s authorised Permit Issuing Officers to inspect the planned site and issue a permit.
  • The authorised Permit Issuing Officer will attempt to satisfy your request in less than 48 hours.
  • Be patient – the authorised Permit Issuing Officers are volunteers who: May be in full time employment or have to work around other commitments.
  • You must have a permit during the Bush Fire Danger Period
  • Contact Lithgow Fire Control Centre, 4 Silcock Street, Lithgow, NSW 2790 by phone 1300 258 737 or by fax 02 6332 8554 if you need a permit.

The only exceptions are:

  • Fire for cooking food in a permanently constructed fireplace
  • The fireplace must be cleared of all combustible materials for a distance of at least 2 metres all around
  • The cooking fire must be completely extinguished before leaving
The penalties for lighting a fire without a permit are very high. For more information click BUSH FIRE DANGER PERIOD AND PERMITS
  • The NSW RFS Commissioner may declare a Total Fire Ban to lower the risk of fires damaging or destroying life, property and the environment.
  • It means that all Fire Permits are suspended.

It also means that you may NOT:

  • Light an open fire
  • Light an incinerator or barbeque (BBQ) that burns solid fuel such as wood, charcoal or heat beads
  • Weld, grind, solder or gas-cut in the open [outside].

The Environmental Protection Agency may also issue a No Burn Day notice if it believes that burning during the forecast weather conditions may increase air pollution. It means you may NOT:

  • Light an open fire
  • Light an incinerator
For more information click TOBAN

YES, provided that:

  • It is under the direct control of a responsible adult.
  • The adult is present during the time it is alight.
  • There is no flammable material within two metres of the barbeque while it is alight.
  • You have an immediate and constant supply of water nearby.
  • The barbeque is within 20 metres of a permanent private dwelling.

If the gas barbeque is not near a permanent private dwelling, then the barbeque and site must be approved by:

  • National Parks and Wildlife Service if it is in a National Park.
  • The Forestry Commission of NSW if it is in a state forest.
  • The local council in which the land is located in any other case.

For more information click EXEMPTIONS

  • A battery-operated radio to keep informed if the power goes down.
  • Suitable clothing for all your family as described below
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts.
  • Long cotton trousers.
  • Protective gloves.
  • Face (smoke) masks (PS2)
  • Googles
  • Stout shoes or boots.
  • A fire pump. Diesel is preferable as it is less flammable.
  • A suitably long fire hose and fittings.
  • Damp towels to stuff into door and window cracks.
  • Metal buckets of water to use on spot fires.
  • Fire fighting foam. Do not use foam on roofs or gutters or it will contaminate water in your water tank. Use it on walls and decking.
  • The FIRES NEAR ME web page on your computer or the Fires Near Me app on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Fire blankets, hoses, fittings (preferably Storz) and foam can be obtained from a fire equipment supply company.
  • Gloves, goggles, buckets and smoke masks can be purchased from (major) hardware stores.
  • You can buy an inexpensive battery radio at your local electronics store.
  • Free Fires Near Me app
  • For more information click ANDROID
  • For more information APPLE


An Officer of the RFS may enter any premises without prior permission for any reason necessary for the Officer to comply with the Act (Rural Fires Act 1997 No 65). If the RFS Officer in charge considers that people, property or the environment is threatened, that Officer may also:-

  • Close any street or public place to traffic near a fire incident or emergency
  • Pull down, cut and remove fences
  • Destroy, pull down or remove any buildings or structures
  • Destroy or remove and living or dead vegetation
  • Establish fire breaks
  • Take and use and water from any source on any land.
  • Use any hydrant or water reticulation system controlled by any water supply authority.
  • Light a back-burning fire.
  • Shut off or disconnect gas or electricity services.
  • Move any vehicle, vessel or other object.
  • Remove any person from any land or building.
  • Restrain a person from entering or re-entering any land or building.

For more information click AUTHORITIES


  • If the Brigade considers that the fire hazards on your landthreaten people, property or the environment
  • The simple rule is – if it’s your property, it’s your hazard and your responsibility. 
  • The Local Fire Control Centre can issue a Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate (HRC) approving hazard reduction that complies with the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code.
  • You may also apply for a free HRC through your Local Fire Control Centre by filling in an application form.
  • If your HRC is approved it will contain explicit instructions you must obey.
  • If you use this process, you may ask the Local Fire Control Centre, State Mitigation or your local brigade for help
Bush fire hazards include any materials that can fuel a fire such as:
  • Petrol,
  • Kerosene
  • Paints and thinners
  • Alcohol
  • LPG
  • Natural Gas
  • Acetylene
  • Leaf litter
  • Grass 
  • Garden mulch 
  • Wood piles
  • Tyres and plastics


  • Under the Rural Fires Act 1997 No 65, Officers of RFS brigades may enter properties to use water stored on those properties.
  • Officers have a legal right to draw water from dams and stored water systems.
  • The RFS Officer should produce his or her authority card as evidence.
  • Understand that the RFS tries to work with property owners to avoid conflicts. See Section 2.2. (d) Powers of Officers  

For more information click WATER

The Static Water Supply (SWS) program identifies properties with sources of water supply such as dams, creeks or swimming pools that can be used for firefighting purposes. ln the event of a fire, the SWS sign and your water tank or backyard pool could save your home. The SWS program is used to identify the location of swimming pools and other water sources in areas of high bushfire risk. The backyard swimming pool provides an ideal emergency water supply for firefighters, using small portable pumps and hose lines, to protect your home and possessions

Contacting the Lithgow Fire Control Centre, 4 Silcox Street, Lithgow, NSW 2790. Phone 1300 258 737 or Fax 02 6332 8554

This is a very difficult decision and a number of complex factors are taken into consideration. These include the path and ferocity of the fire, the property’s vulnerability to the fire, the degree of preparedness shown by the property owner and the availability of fire fighting appliances and crew.  If the property is difficult to access, for example gates are too small for trucks, and the property is littered with combustible materials it will be less likely to be prioritised over a property that is well prepared and easily accessed. Remember – there will never be as many fire trucks as there are properties to defend.


The NSW Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) is recognised as the representative association of the volunteers and staff. Its primary purpose is “Supporting our members to protect the community”. The RFSA is the Authoritative Voice representing NSW RFS volunteers. The RFSA is managed by its members. The RFSA supports volunteers through: 
  • An annual grants program open to RFS Brigades and units throughout NSW. 
  • Sponsoring training exercises 
  • Sponsoring RFS NSW events like Volunteers Family Days 
  • Providing educational scholarships, chaplaincy, counselling and family support. 
  • An Honours and Awards program.
For more information click RFSA

To make a donation directly to your Kanimbla Brigade, simply contact Sallyanne Pisk (Treasurer) using the following email address         

Donations can be directed to our Westpac bank account. The account name is Kanimbla Volunteer RFB, BSB 032 001  Account: 171609. Please include your name on the donation so we can issue you an appropriate receipt.
For more information click DONATIONS.