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.

You cannot light a fire within Council boundaries except for any of the following reasons:

  • where the fire is used to cook food for human consumption in a barbecue or similar structure (but not a fire on the ground)
  • for approved theatrical or similar approved entertainment events
  • where the subject land is included in the Rural area classification (Brisbane City Plan 2014) and neither the height, width or length of the material to be consumed exceeds two metres
  • where a permit has been issued by Queensland Fire and Rescue Service
  • where the fire is required to be lit by a notice under section 69 of the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990.

Note: Council is conducting a trial for outdoor fires for heating purposes between 1 June and 31 August 2020. For more information on the trial, visit the Brazier and fire pit heating trial page.

Council may issue you with an on-the-spot fine for lighting a fire for any other purpose.

If you are burning fuel for heating or cooking, never burn anything except seasoned dry firewood or commercial hot coals and gas.

A person using a brazier or firepit is still required to comply with the Environmental Protection Act 1994 by preventing environmental nuisance and smoke impacts on neighbours.

 To minimise smoke nuisance:

  • Refrain from burning leaves and green or damp wood in a brazier
  • make sure your wood has been seasoned for 8 months, stored in a dry, aerated area, off the ground and sheltered from the rain. Stack the wood in a way that lets air flow through the wood pile, on top a pallet and do not cover with a tarp as this will trap moisture
  • start the fire using small kindling and do not load the fire with large logs until the fire is burning well, or you will smother the fire and create smoke
  • locate your fire away from your property boundary
  • if you are having trouble avoiding smoke, consider whether your brazier needs more air holes in the base or sides to encourage the drawing of oxygen through the fire. Please also be aware that commercially bought firewood may not have been properly seasoned and requires further drying out before use
  • use a multipurpose, smokeless fuel.

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.

Backyard burning is not allowed in the Brisbane City Council area without a permit.

Backyard burning neighbourhood letter

People are sometimes unaware that their activities are causing a nuisance. Brisbane City Council encourages all residents to talk to their neighbours about nuisance problems before making a complaint to Council.

To assist neighbours with resolving the matter without Council intervention, we have developed a templated letter that is designed for neighbours to use in raising awareness of Council’s  requirements and seek co-operation to address the issue in a friendly manner. 

You can download the:

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
  • how sensitive the surrounding environment is and the impact of the smoke
  • 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.

Last updated:5 June 2020