Your Guide to Controlling Campfires
We’ve seen just how dangerous a rogue bushfire can be. That’s why it’s incredibly important that when you go camping, you have complete control of your campfire.
Before you start your next backyard or camping fire, check out your guide to keeping it safe.
Check for Bans
The easiest way to prevent any risk of starting a bushfire is to check for fire bans in your area. That’s normally a good sign that conditions aren’t safe to be starting fires. And it’s not just a recommendation that you shouldn’t start a fire; it’s the law. And breaking it can come with some pretty hefty fines and punishments.
Check out your local state’s fire ban information before ever kicking off a fire:
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- Western Australia
- South Australia
Breaking fire bans can incur fines up to $25,000 and/or 12 months in prison.
Check Local Conditions Yourself
Even if there isn’t a ban, that doesn’t always mean it’s safe to get a fire going. If it’s dry and windy, it’s probably not a safe idea.
Campfires are great fun, but particularly in Australian conditions, they’re a pretty serious risk. If your best judgement of the conditions indicates it’s too great of a risk, trust your instincts.
Use an Existing Fire Pit
If whoever used the campsite last had a fire, why not use the same spot for yours? A spot that’s already been burned off is usually the least likely to spread and potentially grow out of control.
Use a Built Fireplace or Dig Down
Lighting a fire on flat ground is absolutely begging for embers to fly out and start spot-fires. If you don’t have a proper fireplace to build in, dig a hole at least a foot into the earth. That’s normally enough to keep all your embers in one place.
Clear the Area
This is pretty obvious – don’t start your fire right next to loose branches and debris.
What’s less obvious is that you need to clear everything from around the fire. That means your tent, vehicle, literally anything that you wouldn’t want to catch on fire. Sadly, too many camping trips are ruined because a random element of the campsite was too close to the fire, and it quickly spread out of control.
As a rule, give your fire 3m clearance from anything you don’t want to catch alight.
Have Safety Gear Ready to Go
Even when you’ve done everything right, fires can be tricky. Be prepared for your fire to do something unpredictable and potentially risk burning down your campsite (or worse).
To ensure you’re as safe as possible, bring some fire extinguishers and other fire safety gear on your next trip.