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Using a smoker during fire bans and fire danger periods


Greetings all.

My hive is in NSW, Australia. The weather has been hot and dry recently. For those of you in other parts of the world, you should be aware that bushfires are a very real and major threat in Australia. Many people lose their lives every year due to bushfires. We in Australia are twitchy about fires and have some very strict laws about when we can light a fire including a bee smoker.

There was a Total Fire Ban yesterday in my area, but tomorrow there is no fire ban. However, it is still a declared Fire Danger Period.

As I understand it, it is totally illegal to use a smoker during a Total Fire Ban. It is legal to use a smoker during a Fire Danger Period, user certain conditions - cleared area, area wetted down nearby, availability of water and fire-fighting equipment, fire-proof container.

I am planning to open my hive tomorrow for the first time in a few weeks, and will use the smoker. I will notify my neighbours (people often, and rightly, report fires at the first whiff of smoke unless they are forewarned). My hive is in a rural area, and neighbours a several hundred meters away.

My question: is it a legal requirement in NSW to notify my council or local fire service prior to using a smoker during the Fire Danger Period?

Despite extensive internet searching, I have not been able to find an answer.


I guess the simplest way to find out is to make a phone call and ask them.


Why don’t you ring your Local CFA?? The Country Fire Authority decide the bans in the first place`


Hiya Araluen, I know that smoke is your friend but do you really need to smoke? With a good bee suit and care you may not need it. We have been in total fire ban here for weeks and I’d like to use smoke during an inspection, I’m a newbee, however a fire ban is a fire ban. Sure you will be careful but I’d encourage you not to. Smoke travels and yes, people whiff smoke and panic, best not put your neibours neibours in this situation who knows the repercussions?
Better safe than sorry.


I don’t get it… it is a tiny smoker that you have complete control over, if it is legal to use the smoker, then, use it.

Where I live, things get extremely dry (probably not as dry as your location though), and often we have an all out ban on fires, but, when that ban is lifted, even though there is still high fire danger, the ranchers are burning piles of bush all over the place as they work to clear their fields.

Try to keep things in perspective. Since the smoker is small you can take many easy precautions. You can light the smoker next to a water basin. You can bring a metal tray to place the smoker into when you are not holding it.

I do agree though, if you think your neighbors might get worried about the smoke smell, you should warn them.


When entire towns have recently been burned to the ground the public can get a little paranoid. Generally people don’t start bush fires on purpose.
As I said better to be safe than sorry.


Total Fire Ban in Australia is a regular summer occurrence - whole towns and properties have literally gone up in smoke due to a careless cigarette or match - our Aussie bush fires can travel miles once it gets hold - it is an offence to light a BBQ, or even drop a cigarette - Many lives and livelihoods are destroyed every year even with the precautions.

In Summer Australia can become a tinderbox, even a piece of glass in long grass can set a fire.

One whiff of smoke and the CFA will be on your doorstep - it is a really serious problem - 90% of the country is fire prone


We suffered some of our worst wildfires in a century up here last summer. Lack of snowfall n some lite rains helped grow abundant dry fuel n when it lite we suffered the worst I’d seen ! We had smoke jumpers n firefighters from many
parts of the world including Australia. It seemed stuff caught on fire just looking at it !

This Winter n Spring is just the opposite. We have record deep mountain snowfall n record rain totals for winter (Dec - Feb). Only problem … Our Spring is very mild n ahead of the norms. Hoping it does cause lush spring growth n fuel for fire. If the off/on lite rains continue we will be okay. Time will tell. A lot of folks here lost homes, farms, orchards n other businesses. It wasn’t a good year for our National Forests either. I didn’t even think of a campfire last year while backpack in the high Cascade Mtns.


I’m not sure if it is still so, but if you camped out on Mt Kosciuszko, Wilson Promontory or other wild Australian parts, you cannot take Solid fuel to cook with - I’m talking 30 Odd years ago


Same here some areas are non-fire (solid fuels) here as well. But because the trees n bushes take too long to recover if dead woods are used in scenative areas. In the high attitudes of the Cascades Mtns above 6000’ on the Westside of the Crest n only 5000’ on the Eastside are non-fire. Been that way for years. I always carry small gas cook stoves for cooking n coffee n tea preparation. My old Swiss Svea is about 50 years old n still in service. I love backpacking n usually get out on one or two good trips each season. My grandson n I are usually gone for a week carrying all we need. The trail seems to be getting longer n steeper as well as that 60 pound pack much heavier. Hopefully i can go this summer too but Vera’s health might prevent my trip for the first time in my life. Things do change thus must we ! Gerald


So is my 40 Year old Trangia LOL


What is that Valli ? is that a campstove ?


My hubby has converted it to take a propane gas bottle



Pretty much what I bought back in Oz for about $20 I think??


Me too …but your scenery must be spectacular
I’ve hiked in Nepal including Everest base camp
Husband and I walked across England one year and on my 50th birthday I stood on Kilimanjaro.
Last year though…we bought a camper van (is that what you lot call an RV…but a small one)
How things do change :smile:


Dee, never had occasion to personally see or hike any of those places but sure they were equally spectacular.

Most of my hiking has been restricted to the Cascade n Olypmpic Mtn ranges in Washington state n some in the Rocky Mtns.

only found this one at Snoqualmie Pass on my phone. Some of my high country trips were much more spectacular. I grew up in the forest so hard to get use to advancing urban life but slowly a adapting here … Gerald.


Whoops ! This is not the Pass ! Sorry !

Now these two are from last years Cascade Mtn hike.


I am in Texas, USA and we have our usual hot dry period when fire is problematic. I also formerly worked in emergency management which dealt with the consequences of major disasters.
It is getting late in your season by my reckoning, about like August is here. My question is; Is it vital to enter your hive using a smoker or could you put it off for a few weeks or could you suit up and not use a smoker and deal with some unhappy bees for a few minutes? I am sure that you would not want to be the source of an unwanted brush fire for principled, economic and legal reasons. Think about it.


I agree “Better to be safe then sorry.” Yes, people do start fires on purpose and its only paranoia when its not your home.


I’ve done Kosi and Wilsons Prom a few times but I would love to do Machu Picchu