Lake Macquarie's new Control of Open Burning Policy is no free-for-all | photos

A COORANBONG couple is urging locals to read the conditions of consent regarding the new pile burn rules in Lake Macquarie after two Rural Fire Service trucks were needlessly tasked to their property in response to a triple-zero call.

The couple, who agreed to tell their story to the Lakes Mail on the conditions of anonymity, said if they’d made a couple of phone calls prior to their “textbook” pile burn, it could have prevented an unnecessary and wasteful drama.

We’ll call the couple Mark and Dana.

Mark said his recent pile burn was nearing completion when two RFS trucks arrived at his property.

“They were volunteers from the Cooranbong and Dora Creek brigades, and when they turned up it was just about dark,” Mark said.

They had responded to “an out-of-control fire”, Mark said.

What the fireys discovered, however, was something entirely different.

“I took them around to have a look at the fire, and they told me there was nothing wrong with it. In fact, they said it was perfect,” he said.

Well, almost perfect…

The pile burn did tick most of the boxes: it was on a property larger than 4000 square metres; it was at least 20m from a dwelling; only dead or dry vegetation was being burned (not household or building materials); it was supervised; a water supply was readily available if needed; and the time and weather were appropriate.

What Mark and Dana were not aware of was the requirement to:

  • Give adjacent property owners 24 hours’ notice (verbal or written) of their intention to burn; and
  • Notify their local RFS or the nearest NSW Fire Brigades station at least 24 hours before the fire is lit, and one hour prior to lighting.

Mark and Dana are adamant that any fair-minded person could have seen their pile burn was controlled and supervised, and they can only speculate about what motivated somebody to phone it in.

They doubt the caller could have had a genuine concern about the fire.

“If the person had real concerns, wouldn’t they pop in and ask us if everything was OK?” Mark said.

Dana said she was more angered than embarrassed by what occurred.

“I was cranky about it. It’s not just the resources that were called out here, you’ve got the volunteers who may have been dragged away from their families to respond to this call,” she said.

“And what if a genuine emergency happened somewhere else when the trucks were here?”

The conditions of consent under the council’s new, relaxed Control of Open Burning Policy, can be viewed on the council website.

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