Total Fire Bans (TOBAN)

A total fire ban is declared because of extreme weather conditions. They are declared on days when fires are most likely to spread rapidly, threaten lives and property and be difficult to control. A TOBAN is usually declared the afternoon before to ensure that they are based on the most accurate weather forecasts. It usually starts at midnight and lasts 24 hours.

When a TOBAN is declared it is illegal to do anything that could or is likely to start a fire. The ban includes all open fires for the purposes of cooking and camping and all fire permits are suspended.

To find out when Total Fire bans have been declared check NSW Rural Fire Service Fire Information - Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans.When a TOBAN has been declared, signs are placed by your brigade at the top of the Zig Zag, Mt Wilson Station, Cathedral Reserve and Happy Valley.

Fire Danger Ratings

The Fire Danger Rating (FDR) is an assessment of the potential fire behaviour, the difficulty of suppressing a fire and the potential impact on the community should a bushfire occur. It is an early indicator of potential danger and should be your first trigger for action.

The FDR is determined by the Fire Danger Index (FDI). The FDI was developed at CSIRO in the 1960s to measure the degree of danger of fire in Australian forests. The FDI is a combination of air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and drought. An FDI of 1 (Low-Moderate) means that the fire will not burn, or will burn so slowly that it will be easily controlled, whereas an FDI in excess of 100 (Catastrophic) means that the fire will burn so fast and so hot that it is uncontrollable. The FDI is calculated by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) for each region. Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine are included in 'Greater Sydney Region'.

Rating Index
Catastrophic 100+
Extreme 75-99
Severe 50-74
Very High 25-49
High 12-24
Low to moderate 0-11


The conditions of the Black Friday fires of 1939 were used as the example of a 100 rating. The Black Saturday fires of 2009 reached ratings of 120 to 190. There is also an index for grasslands.

The Fire Danger Meter (FDM) has become an icon of rural Australia as most towns have an FDM on their outskirts. The FDM for Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine is located outside the Mt Wilson fire shed.

For further information of Fire Danger Ratings check the NSW Rural Fire Service website under Plan and Prepare - Fire Danger Ratings.