Smoke, ash and fumes complaints

Brisbane City Council has regulations to control smoke, ash and fumes as a result of lighting fires in residential and commercial areas.

Council has resolved to make the new Health, Safety and Amenity Local Law 2021 (the local law) on 30 November 2021. The local law commences on 1 February 2022. Read the Register of Local Laws and Notices for further information.

Under the new local law, Council allows the use of above-ground braziers and fit pits in residential areas, provided smoke does not impact neighbours and the fire does not present a safety risk to people or property.

What to do when you are impacted by smoke from your neighbours

People are sometimes unaware that their activities are causing an impact or nuisance. Council encourages all residents to talk to their neighbours about impacts or nuisance problems before making a complaint to Council.

To assist residents to resolve matters without Council intervention, we have developed a template letter that is designed to raise awareness of Council's requirements and to seek cooperation from your neighbour to address the issue in a friendly manner.

Steps you can take

  1. If you require urgent medical assistance, call 000 immediately. 
  2. If you are concerned about your health and wish to speak with a medical professional, contact 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
  3. If the smoke is impacting your health and/or lifestyle, try to speak with your neighbour. If you are not comfortable speaking with your neighbour, complete our Smoke impacts from fire pit and brazier letter template (Word - 313kb) to give to your neighbour. You may wish to include the Using a brazier or fire pit fact sheet (Word - 818kb).
  4. If the smoke impact continues after you have informed your neighbour, or if you do not feel comfortable speaking with them, phone Council on 07 3403 8888 to register a complaint. It is advisable to phone at the time the fire is burning.

For information on how to minimise the impact of your backyard fire, refer to the guidelines on the Backyard burning, brazier and fire pit use page.

Failure to comply with the requirements outlined may result in a Compliance Direction to put out the fire.  Failure to comply with a Compliance Direction may result in Council issuing an on-the-spot fine.

If you are burning fuel for heating or cooking, never burn anything except seasoned dry firewood, charcoal, ethanol, or gas.

In circumstances where fires are permitted under the Health, Safety and Amenity Local Law 2021, a person is still required to comply with the Environmental Protection Act 1994 by preventing environmental nuisance and smoke impacts on neighbours.

Learn how to minimise the risk of causing smoke impacts.

You can dispose of garden waste:

Broad hectare burns for fuel reduction purposes involving protected vegetation are assessed as applications to interfere with protected vegetation.

Operation of a wood-fired heater in the home can cause complaints if incorrectly operated or located. Find out how to minimise nuisance from wood heaters.

Lodging a complaint

When investigating complaints about smoke, ash and fumes, Council considers:

  • the amount of smoke
  • how long smoke is emitted and the smoke's characteristics
  • the impact of the smoke and the sensitivity of the person impacted
  • whether the person causing the smoke is doing everything they reasonably can to avoid creating a smoke impact or environmental nuisance.

Find out how to lodge a complaint about an environmental nuisance issue.

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