Bushfires Management Act

Bushfire is a natural part of the Northern Territory (NT) landscape and environment, and like most natural events, it must be managed to prevent impacts on property, industry and, in extreme cases, human life.

The new Bushfires Management Act 2016 came into effect on 1 November 2016, replacing the old Bushfires Act.

The Bushfires Management Act 2016 provides the framework for managing bushfire in areas outside the Emergency Response Area of cities and towns in the NT.

For information on bushfire management, fire permits, survival plans and emergency information go to the Northern Territory Government website.

Read the Bushfires Management Act 2016

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Key changes affecting Bushfire legislation

The key underlying principle of the previous legislation has been retained: landowners are responsible for the management of bushfires on their land. However, some significant changes did occur.

The Bushfires Management Act 2016 now:

  • clarifies the role of Bushfires NT
  • provides greater protection and recognition of volunteer fire fighters
  • establishes a new planning framework for bushfire management based upon bushfire risk, and the preparation of regional bushfire management plans in consultation with land owners and other stakeholders
  • continues to focus on fire management rather than fire exclusion
  • clearly defines the roles of various stakeholders, including government, in bushfire management and strengthens the relationship between government and volunteer bushfire brigades
  • retains the Bushfires Council and Regional Bushfires Committees and clarifies their roles through provision of terms of reference
  • establishes a new capacity to prescribe bushfire management arrangements for an individual property where a bushfire risk assessment identifies that conditions on that property present a bushfire risk to neighbouring properties.

Consultation and review

A public consultation process generated submissions from a broad cross section of stakeholders. A set of recommendations has been drawn from those submissions, along with additional expert advice on trends in contemporary bushfire management legislation around Australia.

The key themes to emerge from the submissions included calls to:

  • maintain the underlying principle that fire management is the responsibility of the landholder
  • retain the Bushfires Council and Regional Bushfire Committees as key stakeholder engagement bodies
  • formalise and clearly define the operational roles undertaken by Bushfires NT in different regions, including the bushfire emergency response role currently undertaken in high risk areas close to major population centres
  • recognise the different landscapes and risk profiles within the NT; recognise that they can change from season to season; and provide flexible and effective bushfire management arrangements
  • establish a clear chain of command incorporating Bushfires NT staff and volunteers
  • establish and ensure clarity of accountabilities and responsibilities of Bushfires NT, volunteer brigades and volunteers.

Read the Recommendations Paper - Review of the Bushfires Act PDF (679.5 KB).

Submissions closed on 4 April 2016.

Basic bushfire laws

Below is a summary of the basic fire laws in the NT, including information on  fire bans and fire protection zones. For information regarding bushfire prevention and your responsibilities as a landholder or occupier visit SecureNT

Fire protection zones

Certain areas in the NT have been declared fire protection zones, which means fires can't be lit in those areas without a permit at any time of year.

Fire for camping, cooking or urgently disposing of an animal carcass can only be lit in a fire protection zone if the nearest flammable matter to the fire is more than four metres away and the fire is fully extinguished before it is left.

View maps for each of the fire protection zones below:

Burning outside a fire protection zone

Fire danger periods can be declared for either the whole or part of the Territory for a specific period of time. Any area specified under a declaration of fire danger period is known as a fire danger area. During a fire danger period, all landowners within a fire danger area must have a permit to burn.


A fire ban may be declared for either the whole or part of the Territory for a period of up to 24 hours when fire conditions are very dangerous. Bans are announced on local radio and by roadside signs in built-up areas.

All permits to burn are void on during a fire ban period.

If you are using fire immediately before a ban is declared, you must put the fire out. Careful use of cooking fires is allowed.

If you start a fire during a fire ban period, even if one starts from your cooking fire, you could be charged the maximum penalty or face imprisonment.

For more information regarding permits and lighting fires visit SecureNT

Last updated: 12 October 2021

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