What is a Bushfire Risk Reduction Notice (BFN) and why do we need one?

    Under Section 33 of the Bush Fires Act 1954 Local Governments can require a landowner or occupier to:
    • Maintain a firebreak, and
    • Take other actions with respect to anything upon the land that is likely to be conductive to the outbreak, spread or extension of a bush fire.

    Bushfire Risk Reduction Notices (BFN) are legislative documents which enable local governments to instruct landowners/occupiers of the actions they must take to prepare their properties throughout the fire season. 

    A contemporary BFN for the City of Busselton is needed to help keep us safe, to balance amenity, and to protect our natural environment against excessive action.

    What is the City of Busselton's role in bushfire preparedness as a local government?

    Local governments have a clear role in emergency and bushfire preparedness, which includes: 
    • Development of LG specific Bushfire Risk Management plan to identify at risks assets.
    • Management of Bushfire risk on LG freehold and managed crown land.
    • Manage and support local Bush Fire brigades
    • Work with State agencies to develop, build and educate community in improvement in local and individual preparedness strategies.
    • Educate community in individual responsibilities in relation to managing bushfire risk.
    • Administer State planning and building laws and policies.

    What is the State Government's role in bushfire preparedness?

    State government leads a unified approach to emergency and bushfire preparedness through the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), as well as the Office for Bushfire Risk Management (OBRM). Their role is to: 

    • Develop legislation and guidelines.                       
    • Management of Bushfire risk on State managed crown land.
    • Support development of treatment plans and risk assessments for education facilities in bushfire prone areas.
    • Administer Mitigation Activity Fund Grant to LG’s.
    • Work with LG’s and community in education and improvement in local preparedness strategies.

    Why is the City reviewing our Bushfire Risk Reduction Notice (BFN)?

    The City of Busselton’s Risk Reduction Notice has been substantially unchanged for over 10 years. It is now overdue for review. 

    Why now?

    • There has been significant changes over recent years to State level regulations related to development in Bushfire prone areas.                       
    • There has been substantial development within the LGA over the last 10 years.                       
    • Changing climatic conditions means our local risk for bushfire is higher than before.
    • An attempt to review the notice occurred in 2020. Through this, we identified a need to balance community values with bushfire preparedness requirements and a need to better balance the impact of the notice on the environment, cost for people to implement, and amenity impacts.

    How has this new draft BFN been developed?

    This Bushfire Risk Reduction Notice review has been conducted by the City of Busselton and guided by a Community Stakeholder Working Group.                       
    • This group is comprised of 30 community group representatives, ranging from resident associations, environmental groups, bushfire brigades and specialists from state government.                            
    • The group met five times over August to December 2023, reviewing information from various agencies like DFES, OBRM, and previous community feedback from consultation completed in 2020-2021.
    • Their focus has been on building two-way education between the City and the community on practicalities of the bushfire notice, thinking innovatively to design a solution, and being adaptable to develop consensus.

    Who is the BFN Community Project Group, and what is their purpose?

    This 30 member group is a mix of community leaders and agency representatives. View the list of groups here: 

    The group has used an independant facilitator to help them achieve their mission. Their mission has been to develop a simplified, clear and contemporary notice which is:                       
    1. Legally relevant.
    2. Consistent with our local values.
    3. Easy for landowners to understand what they need to do.

    What will happen next?

    We need the community to help refine and improve this draft BFN. When finalised, it will be:                       
    • Shared with the community and accompanied by supporting information sheets for each category which further explains the requirements for landowners.                            
    • Annually reviewed to ensure it remains current and consistent with community values over time.
    • Available on the City’s online mapping portal so residents can see property category and requirements. 


    I live in an urban area - does the BFN apply to me?

    Yes - the Bushfire Risk Reduction Notice applies to all properties within the City of Busselton, including those within townsites. The preparation requirements differ depending on the size of your property, but there is a shared responsibility by all to ensure they comply with the Notice.

    Will I need to clear all vegetation around my house to put in a managed fuel area?

    No. Under the draft Notice a managed fuel area (MFA) is a 20-m low fuel zone around your home. 

    This may include, but not limited to, pruning dead under storage of bushes and trees, removing ladder fuels, thinning out isolated bush clumps, etc. If your gardens are maintained or reticulated, the key actions you will need to take are keeping your gutters free of dry material and ensure there are no branches from trees within a 5m vertical clearance of your roof. 

    If you your house is close to your neighbour’s boundary line, the MFA does not need to extend beyond your property boundary.

    My garden is not reticulated, does that mean I have to remove this from next to my house?

    If your property falls within the proposed category 2 or 3 of the draft notice and has a habitable dwelling then a 20 Managed Fuel Area (MFA) is required. 

    If your garden is maintained on a regular basis and is free from dead plants and leaf litter, then it is allowed to stay.

    How much clearance from trees is allowed around a dwelling? How close are they allowed to be?

    If your property falls within category 2 or 3 of the draft notice, a 2-metre horizontal and 5 metre vertical clearance of tree branches from the house is required.

    What if I have declared rare Flora & Fauna and/or Threatened Ecological Communities on my property?

    Although some exemptions for clearing existed to comply with the requirements of a Bushfire Notice, if you know, suspect or are unsure whether you live at a property with environmental sensitivities or you plan to clear part of your property you MUST enquire first with the relevant agencies or departments prior to starting any works. 

    There is legislation in place to protect the environment and land in Western Australia and without prior approval or authorisation you may face penalties. 

    Why do I have to reduce dead flammable material from a managed fuel area, and what do 8 tonnes per hectare mean?

    The intensity at which a fire will burn is largely due to 3 factors:

    • weather,
    • topography, and;
    • the condition of the vegetation.

    If vegetation is dead, dry, and built up over time, a fire has a higher chance of spreading faster, burning hotter and increasing flame height which impact trees, shrubs, and homes.

    By reducing the dead flammable material or matter across your property, it increases the chance your property will survive a bushfire or that firefighters may be able to defend your property safely. 

    8 tonne per hectare is a measurement used to identify the approximate fuel loading on a piece of land. Generally speaking, 8 tonne per hectare is equivalent to a compressed depth of 15mm from the top layer of fine fuels down to the mineral earth or decomposing material.

    What about mulch or wood piles?

    Property owners and/or residents may be asked by notice to reduce, remove, or relocate other fire hazards identified by a Fire Control Officer on the property.

    Tips for storing mulch:

    Storing mulch piles on your property can become a significant fire hazard if not stored sensibly or monitored regularly. Large piles of mulch can spontaneously combust due to heat build-up or catch alight from embers should a bushfire threaten the area. Consider:

    • Limit the pile height as much as possible to allow sufficient ventilation.
    • Spread the mulch out in a relatively thin layer (ensure you don’t exceed 8 tonne per hectare).
    • Place the pile away from direct sunlight to reduce the amount of heat build-up inside the pile and prevent rapid evaporation from sun exposure. Be mindful not to relocate under low hanging branches or amongst leaf litter and other vegetation. This will cause an additional fire hazard.
    • Install a bare earth fire break around the pile to reduce the potential of fire spread.
    • Have a dedicated storage area that is far from your house (outside your APZ)
    • Check it frequently to ensure it is not showing signs of smouldering. A temperature probe may aid in detecting hot spots in the pile.

    Tips for storing wood piles.


    • Store it away (outside your Managed Fuel Area) from your house and garage to reduce the risk of a fire hazard, along with pests and termites being brought into your home.
    • Have a dedicated storage shed or area that can be fully enclosed to reduce embers or running fires spreading into your pile.
    • Stack your pile neat and loosely off the ground.

    What should I do with garden waste piles?

    Garden refuse piles that have accumulated over time or as a result of conducting works on the property in line with the draft Notice will need to be removed or moved outside the Managed fuel area on larger properties. 

    Garden refuse presents a high fire risk that can increase flame height and fire spread.

    Why do I need to slash or cut my grass?

    Grasses if not maintained can pose a high risk for fires to move fast across land and properties.

    Short grasses that are well maintained (kept short throughout bushfire season) aims to reduce the speed at which grass fires can travel. A less intense fire will give a property a chance to be defended or for a fire to be brought under control quicker.