Fire standards under the Plantations and Reafforestation Act 1999

This information sheet outlines the requirements for fire safety under the Plantations and Reafforestation Act 1999 and associated Code. Plantation Assessment Officers can provide more detailed information if required.

Why are Fire Standards Necessary?

Fire protection is a major community concern.

The Department of Planning, Industry & Environment and the NSW RuralFire Service (RFS) worked together to develop the fire standards.

The fire standards:

  • Provide a safer operating environment for fire fighters;
  • Reduce the risk of fires escaping from plantations; and
  • Minimise the damage to plantations from wildfire.

Requirements for fire roads

The provisions relating to fire roads are inPart 5, Division 2, Subdivision 2A of the Code.

Fire roads

Clauses 41C, 41D and 41E

Fire roads will provide trafficable access for heavy fire fighting vehicles, including RFS Category 1 fire tankers.

Fire roads can be:

  • Access roads;
  • Perimeter tracks; or
  • Link roads.

Access Roads: There are no set requirements for the number of access roads in a plantation.

Plantation owners will be able to determine the location and intensity of access roads on their property.

Perimeter tracks: A perimeter track is required for all plantations, to be located as close as possible to the edge of the planted area.

However, this requirement does not apply where it is impractical to construct a perimeter track because of topography, slope, and soil regolith or rainfall erosivity.

Link roads: A link road must be constructed to link discontinuous sections of perimeter track with other sections of perimeter track or access roads, except where this is impractical because of topography, slope, and soil regolith or rainfall erosivity.

Plantation owners and managers must indicate any roads or proposed roads, including fire roads, on their plantation plans.

This graphic demonstrates the specific requirements

Fire road construction

Clause 41F

The standards for fire road construction include:

  • Minimum widths and overhead clearances;
  • Maximum road grades and other engineering requirements;
  • Special requirements for drainage feature crossings;
  • Specific requirements for crossbanks (see diagram).

Turnarounds and passing opportunities

The provision of turnaround areas along fire roads is critical to minimise danger for fire fighters.

Passing opportunities are necessary to reduce long distance reversing.

Turnaround areas are to be provided when a fire road ends in a dead end, and at any point on a fire road where the road conditions beyond that point do not meet the fire road standards (Clause 41G).

A T-junction or road intersection may serve as a turnaround area.

Passing opportunities must be provided on all fire roads at least every 250 metres (Clause 41H), unless topography makes this impossible. A passing opportunity is considered to be a road intersection, or any cleared area of certain dimensions along the side of a road.

Requirements for Signage

Clause 41I

Signage is required to assist fire fighters navigate safely within plantations.

The requirements include signs to indicate:

  • A section of fire road that is accessible by a Category 1 fire tanker;
  • Where a fire road ends in a dead end or is otherwise inaccessible by a Category 1 fire tanker;
  • A link road;
  • The location of any water storage accessible from a fire road;
  • Where there are no fire roads on a plantation.

Signs erected after the commencement of the fire standards must comply with the Bush Fire

Coordinating Committee’s signage design standards. However, existing signs can be retained if they include the necessary information.

Standards relating to bush fire hazard reduction

The provisions relating to bush fire hazard reduction are in Part 4, Division 4 of theCode.

Setbacks from buildings

Clause 25A

The setback requirements in the Code are consistent with existing State-wide standards designed to protect buildings from the risk of bush fire.

Establishment operations must not be undertaken within specified distances from any existing habitable dwelling or special fire protection building. However, these requirements will not apply where:

  • A habitable dwelling is located within the property boundary of the plantation and that dwelling is not inhabited; or
  • An appropriate setback for a habitable dwelling or special fire protection building has been established in accordance with Planning for Bush Fire Protection or an environmental planning instrument.

Setbacks from powerlines

Clause 25B

Power line setbacks are required to provide safety for fire fighters during bush fires.

The proposed buffer distances are consistent with those in the Native Vegetation Act 2003.

The provisions require:

  • An exclusion zone in which no planting is permitted; and
  • A further buffer zone which can be planted provided that the trees do not exceed 3 metres in height.

Access to water supply

Clause 25C

It is important that fire fighters know whether, and if so where, water is located in a plantation.

Where practicable, any water storage on a plantation must be accessible for firefighting purposes.

Plantation owners and managers must indicate water storage points on their plantation plans.

Provision of information

Clause 28A

Where the authorised area of a plantation is 100 hectares or more, the owner or manager must provide the RFS and Industry & Investment NSW with a digital mapping layer showing the location of fire roads and water storages.

This must be provided within 3 months of the completion of planting. Plantation officers can advise on the necessary format for this information.

Record-keeping

Clause 41F(7)

The owner and manager of a plantation must keep the following records in relation to fire roads, including bridges and culverts on fire roads:

  • Evidence of construction; and
  • An annual inspection log

When do the fire standards apply?

Clause 41B

Plantations established after the commencement of the fire standards

These plantations are required to comply with all the fire standards.

Plantations established before the commencement of the fire standards

Fire roads, Setbacks from Buildings and Powerlines, and Provision of Information

These requirements will not apply to established plantations until the replanting of 30 hectares, or 30% of the plantation area, whichever is greater.

Signage

Where there are no fire roads on a plantation, a sign indicating this must be erected within 12 months after the commencement of the fire standards.

All other signage requirements will not apply until the first of the following events occurs:

  • The replanting of 30 hectares, or 30% of the plantation area, whichever is greater; or
  • Five years after the commencement of the fire standards.

Access to water supply and Record keeping

These requirements will apply to established plantations.

Further Information

The Act and Code can be found on our Plantation forestry page.

For further information about the fire standards, please contact the Plantation Assessment Officers in the Plantations Regulation Unit. Staff locations and telephone numbers are:

NameLocationPhone

Nick Myer

Albury

02 6051 7711

James Crooks

Moss Vale

02 4877 3208

Brendan Groom

Coffs Harbour

02 6650 3126

Johanna Kempff

Wollongbar

02 6626 1105

Simon Lovell

Wollongbar

02 6626 1108