Air Quality

Air quality can be affected by smoke from fires.  State regulations relating to smoke emissions are currently under review. 

Do you really need to burn?

Council provides an extensive rubbish and recycling collection service, which operates weekly and fortnightly respectively, as well as a green waste collection service every four weeks.  For the people living in the areas covered by these services, there should be no need for any burning of rubbish.  Private waste removal services are also available to help dispose of excessive garden waste. Mobile chippers can chip garden wastes into mulch.

If you must burn waste, remember the following:

  • It should be used as a last resort for reducing garden wastes.  Please note that household wastes cannot be burnt.
  • Only very dry material that will burn with minimal smoke or odours should be burned.
  • Under no circumstances should plastic or rubber of any kind be burnt.
  • Green garden waste should not be burned.  Garden waste should be completely dry before burning and the incinerator should not be overloaded.
  • If you intend to conduct open burning, then please try to contact neighbours in case they have washing on their line or are planning to spend time outside.  You should bear in mind that smoke is detrimental to people who suffer from asthma or from other respiratory problems.
  • Prior to burning please contact the Tasmania Fire Service to determine if fire restrictions are currently in force.

Fire safety

During fire permit periods for permit and other fire enquiries contact the Tasmanian Fire Service on 1800 000 699.

Smoke from wood heaters

Smoke from wood heaters has the potential to cause serious health and environmental impacts if they are not operated satisfactorily or if incorrect materials are burnt.

Use the following as a guide to using your wood heater to reduce smoke emissions:

  • Check your wood heater complies with relevant Australian Standards (applies to installation of new wood heaters)
  • Ensure the fire wood is stored under cover to aid in drying and keeping it dry
  • Only using well-seasoned, dry firewood. The Firewood Association of Australia* recommends buying wood in the summer months and stack under a roof cover with open sides.
  • Wood moisture meters are available for purchase from a number of sources to check whether wood is suitably dry for burning.  Further details on wood moisture levels are available from the Firewood Association of Australia
  • Always burn with a flame
  • Burn the fire on high for 20 minutes after adding wood
  • Always keep the air vents open enough to keep some kind of flame
  • Don't shut your fire right down when you go to bed
  • Never let the fire smoulder.

Visit Environmental Protection Authority Tasmania  for further information on the best techniques to use when operating a wood heater to reduce air quality impacts from the smoke emissions. 

What is 'well-seasoned', dry fire wood?

“Well seasoned” wood is timber that has reduced moisture content.  When timber has just been harvested, it contains moisture that has been absorbed by the roots to help the tree grow.   When the timber is cut, the wood still contains the moisture until it has been stacked and properly stored, undercover, for an extended period to allow the moisture to evaporate. 

Because it is dry, seasoned wood burns with greater heat than “unseasoned” or “green” wood and produces less smoke.

Seasoned wood can be identified by being less weighty than unseasoned wood, as it contains less moisture.  It may appear a grey colour at the cut end and may be split and open in the grain.

Further information

More information about effective wood heater operation can be found under 'Air Quality' on the EPA website.  

The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services provides more information on the potential health impacts of wood smoke exposure. The Department also provides public health alerts for air quality at sites around Tasmania using real time data.