Comments on article: Flame Weeding to Support Restoration
Navigating legislation and trying to do the right thing involving fire can often be a minefield. Here are a few extra points contributed by the NSW Rural Fire Service that may provide some clarity for flame weeding activities.
• It is important to clarify that the intent of flame weeding is not to ignite vegetation. The live flame generated by the weeder should not cause flaming combustion of vegetation but the heat generated causes enough cell damage to kill the weed.
• A permit may not be needed to undertake flame weeding. Some clarity around fire permits is given below:
Under the Rural Fires Act 1997 Bush Fire Safety permits for burning in the open are required:
o To conduct any burning during the Bush Fire Danger Period
o If you light a fire that is likely to be dangerous to any building at any time of year.
• Some local government areas require permits under the Protection of Environmental Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010
• The Rural Fires Act is silent on activities where a fire is not actually lit. This would indicate that the onus is on the operator to ensure that the use of the flame weeder does not cause a fire to be lit.
• It is always advisable to have a conversation with the relevant fire agency (NSW Rural Fire Service or Fire and Rescue NSW) to seek advice about fire safety depending on your location, time of year etc. as suggested in the article.
• In terms of other approvals, if the purpose of the works is not for bush fire hazard reduction then you won’t need a hazard reduction certificate but you may need another environmental approval if required by any other law.
• Some other safety considerations:
o By default flame weeding is prohibited during a total fire ban day (it would be classed similar to hot works like welding as it involves the use of a naked flame).
o You should check whether a Total Fire Ban (TOBAN) is in force: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fdr-and-tobans
o It would be advisable that when using a flame weeder at any other time that you have adequate firefighting equipment in working order available on site. As a minimum this would be (guide only):
16L knapsack spray pump filled with water; or
9L liquid fire extinguisher; or
0.9kg dry powder fire extinguisher.