The NSW Rural Fire Service is cracking down on cigarette butt “tossers” by doubling the penalty costs ahead of the fire season, which starts in Young on October 1.
The RFS has introduced a new fire law and penalties, and increased existing penalties for a range of offences to help protect people and their properties this season.
A total of 18 penalties have doubled in costs.
People who discard a lit cigarette from their car can now expect to incur a $660 fine, twice the amount it was last season.
The offence attracts double that figure again, at $1320, if you’re caught throwing a lit cigarette during a Total Fire Ban.
Witnesses can now report people who throw lit cigarettes from a vehicle by calling the Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737 or completing an online report at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/prevent-bush-fire-arson/cigarette-form.
“Fines for discarding a lit cigarette carry a lot more weight,” RFS South West Slopes Zone inspector Elan Palmer said.
Mr Palmer said because it was a frequent offence and its outcome devastating, authorities have decided “enough’s enough”.
The fine for lighting, using or carrying a tobacco product within the proximity of grassland or crop stubble, such as a pipe, has also gone from $330 to $660.
Other offences include not extinguishing fires or notifying firefighting authorities ($440), not giving notice to authorities before certain fires are lit ($1100), contravening any condition of a fire permit ($1100) and unlawfully leaving a fire in open air before it’s thoroughly extinguished ($2200).
Lighting fires for cooking and burning garbage or using spark arresters can also incur a $660 fine each.
Mr Palmer said people who refuse to give their details to the RFS is a new penalty and can also attract a fine.
“People need to ensure that if they burn, they burn with a permit which is available from October 1,” he said.
“And they need to keep to the conditions and designated area of their permit. If it escapes, they’re potentially up for a penalty.”
Mr Palmer reminded residents that if they live outside a town limited 50 kilometre speed zone, they are required to obtain a permit from the RFS from October 1.
If people live within the 50 kilometres speed zone of Young, they fall under the Fire and Rescue NSW boundaries and require a fire permit all year round.
New vegetation laws regarding its clearance have also been introduced to help people better prepare their homes for bushfires.
The new laws allow people in a 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area to clear trees on their property within 10 metres of a home and clear vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of a home, all without seeking approval.
Residents can find out if their property is in a 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area using the RFS’s online tool at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/1050-vegetation-clearing.
The website also contains a series of frequently asked questions to provide additional information.