Victoria Legal Aid

Arson, fires and fireworks

Victoria's laws about lighting fires in public places, setting off fireworks and deliberately destroying property with fire.

Lighting fires, even accidentally, can cause bushfires, damage to property and even loss of life. The penalties can be high.

If you are found guilty of arson (deliberately lighting a fire to cause damage to property) you can be sent to jail for up to 25 years.

Lighting fires

Offences relating to lighting a fire in a public place include:

  • lighting rubbish in a public place
  • having an open fire or carrying any lighted flammable material that results in someone’s property being:
    • damaged
    • destroyed
    • put in danger.
  • leaving an open fire without someone staying in charge of it.

The maximum penalty for these offences is 25 penalty units and/or 12 months’ jail.

Total fire bans

You are not allowed to light a fire in a district while an official (or total) fire ban is in place in your area unless you have a permit.

Victoria’s Country Fire Authority Act 1958 makes it an offence to light a fire during a total fire ban.

The maximum penalty is 240 penalty units or two years jail.

The Country Fire AuthorityExternal Link website has information about total fire bans and how to get a permit.

False fire alarms

It is an offence to wilfully (deliberately or without concern for the consequences) give a false alarm or cause a false alarm to be given to a fire brigade.

Penalties include a fine of up to 60 penalty units.

The court may also order someone who is found guilty of these offences to pay money as compensation for the expenses that making the false alarm has caused.


It is an offence to set off fireworks in public without a council permit to do so. The maximum penalty is five penalty units.


Arson is the intentional and malicious lighting of fires to damage or destroy property. It is a very serious offence, carrying penalties of up to 25 years in jail.

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Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 18 May 2022

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