Residents living near bushland in Blacktown have been urged to report any suspicious activity by firebugs as NSW prepares for extreme conditions tomorrow.
During last year’s bushfire danger period, from October 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013, legal action was taken against 87 people for 117 bushfire related offences.
Of those 55 were juveniles.
Assistant Commissioner Alan Clarke, the deputy state emergency operations controller, said police and the thousands of Rural Fire Service officers, and Fire and Rescue NSW personnel will also be keeping a close watch on any suspicious activity.
“The outcomes of bushfires can be catastrophic, and reports of deliberately-lit bushfires are treated extremely seriously,” he said.
“We use both overt and covert strategies to detect bushfire arsonists, and anyone caught deliberately lighting bushfires will be arrested and put before the court where they could face penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment.
‘‘If you see someone acting suspiciously, contact police, and if you see a bushfire, phone triple-0 immediately.”
Strike Force Tronto, comprised of police detectives from the Property Crime Squad’s arson unit, is the lead investigative body on suspicious or deliberately-lit bushfires which lead to death, serious injury or significant property loss.
Penalties relating to bushfires under the NSW Crimes Act, the Rural Fires Act, and Rural Fires Regulation include:
● Damaging property with the intention of endangering life – up to 25 years imprisonment;
● Manslaughter – up to 25 years imprisonment;
● Starting a bushfire and being reckless as to its spread – up to 14 years imprisonment;
● Lighting a fire when a total fire ban is in place – up to 12 months imprisonment and/or a $5500 fine;
● Not putting out a fire that you have lit – up to 12 months imprisonment and/or a $5500 fine;
● Failing to comply with a bush fire hazard reduction notice – up to 12 months imprisonment and/or a $5500 fine;
● Light or use a tobacco product within 15-metres of any stack of grain, hay corn, straw or any standing crop, dry grass or stubble field – up to a $5500 fine.