Australia — The minimum penalty for lighting a fire on a total fire ban day has been doubled to $1100.
And if it gets out of hand and blows up into a full-scale bushfire the culprit faces a $100,000 fine and 14 years in jail.
The new penalties came into force on Monday as authorities braced for what they fear will be a bad bushfire season.
With the weather heating up and the Central Coast preparing for temperatures above 30C, everyone has been urged to follow the rules.
The season was looking pretty bad but the rain weve had may have possibly slowed things up a bit, NSW Fire Brigades Central Coast duty commander Ron Sinclair said.
But the rain has caused a fuel build-up and on a hot day with strong westerly winds that could be very dangerous. We seem to be getting more worse fires than ever before. It used to be about every five to seven years and now it is every couple of years.
Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan announced the new increased penalties.
He said the penalty for failing to comply with a bushfire hazard reduction notice had increase also – from $220 to $1100.
The misuse or inappropriate use of fire can place lives and even whole communities at risk, he said.
These tough new penalties will send a very strong message that the community will not tolerate this kind of irresponsible behaviour.
Mr Whan said bushfire hazard reduction notices were issued to ensure people effectively managed hazards on their land.
These new penalties are part of a raft of changes that also give increased fire investigation powers as well as the ability to remove people and vehicles from fire scenes, Mr Whan said.
I urge everyone to familiarise themselves with these new penalties and use fire only appropriately and responsibly.
For more information on the new penalties, or to download a bushfire survival plan to protect your property the rural fire service website.