A total fire ban has been in place this week across Gunnedah, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains and Tamworth shires as well as other parts of the state including the northern slopes and north west, with five regions given an extreme fire danger rating.

Lighting a fire on a day of total fire ban attracts an on the spot fine of $2200 and if the matter goes to court, offenders could be subject to a fine of up to $5500 and/or 12 months gaol.

Penalties for a fire that escapes and damages or destroys life, property or the environment can attract much greater fines and gaol terms with maximums at $132,000 and/or 14 years gaol.

During a Total Fire Ban residents cannot light, maintain or use a fire in the open, or carry out any activity in the open that causes, or is likely to cause, a fire, such as burning rubbish, general purpose hot works like welding, grinding or gas cutting or any activity that produces a spark or flame.

The NSW RFS strongly recommends landholders reconsider activities such as such using a tractor or slashing, to help reduce the chance of a fire sparking on their property.

Bush and grass fires are more likely to spread and cause damage on days when the weather is very hot, dry and windy. These are usually on days when the fire danger rating is Extreme or Catastrophic.

Residents can use an electric barbecue for cooking as long as it is under the direct control of a responsible adult, who is present at all times while it is operating, and no combustible material is allowed within two metres at any time it is operating.

A barbecue or wood fire pizza oven which uses solid fuel, such as wood, charcoal or heat beads, cannot be used outside during a Total Fire Ban.

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