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Hotspots Fire Project

Help Section

Getting started

You can now begin your property fire management plan. This tool takes you through the 9 step process and it takes about 30-60 mins, depending on the level of detail you add.

We recommend you download the Workshop 1 - Preparing a fire management plan booklet which illustrates the step by step process.

You can look at the help section for each stage at any time by clicking the help symbol in the top right of the screen. Get started by looking at how to use the mapping tools there are also a series of videos throughout the help section that provide additional information as well as handy hints and tips.

You may also want to refer to The Bush Fire Household Assessment Tool provided by the NSW Rural Fire Service. This tool can help you to assess your household's level of risk from a bush fire and make informed decisions about the safety of your household.

Changes you make at each stage are only saved when you click 'SAVE & NEXT' and go to the following step.

Map Symbols

The symbols have been compiled by Hotspots with most of the colours and symbols being those most commonly used in developing property plans in NSW.

Mapping tools

Symbols are added and manipulated on your property map via Google maps drawing library software. There are 3 types of drawing tools; markers, polylines and polygons.


Markers are single points on the map e.g. gates

Example: To add a gate (marker) to your map, click on the green 'add' icon and then click on the map where you wish to place the marker. You can move the symbol around the map by clicking and dragging to your desired location. Once in correct position click anywhere outside the map and you can add further detail to each symbol including changing the name and further information.

You can edit the location of your marker, or any extra information you have included by clicking on the pencil icon . Delete symbols from the map at any time using the red minus icons .


Polylines are lines on the map e.g. powerlines or fences

Example: To add a Fence line (polyline), click on the green 'add' icon and click along the line of the fence on your map. For straight lines you only need click the start and end of the fence. The more times you click, the more points will appear on your map and the more precise you can be with the polyline.To finish the line click the last point added.again. You can continue a polyline outside the visible area of the map by holding the space bar down and dragging the map to the desired position.

Edit/delete symbols from the map at any time using the pencil or red minus icons .


Polygons are shapes e.g. Property boundary or areas of different vegetation

Example: To add your property boundary (polygon) to your map, click on the 'add' icon and click the boundary of the area you wish to mark on your map. The more times you click, the more accurate you can be with the outline. By clicking the first point you made on the map again you complete the shape. In the text boxes you can add further details for example name the asset 'e.g. Property name'.

Edit/delete symbols from the map at any time using the pencil or red minus icons . You can edit the shape of the polygon by clicking the pencil icon and moving any point of the shape boundary. You can remove points from the shape boundary by right clicking them.

Asset Protection Zones

An asset protection zone (APZ) is an area between a bush fire hazard and buildings, which is more intensively and routinely managed to minimise fuel loads and reduce the potential radiant heat, flame contact, ember and smoke attack on life and property.

The appropriate width of an APZ will vary with slope, vegetation, Fire Danger Index (FDI) and construction level.

The NSW Rural Fire Service have produced a Standard for Asset Protection Zones creation and maintenance.

If you are constructing an APZ for a new dwelling you will also need to comply with the requirements in Planning for Bush fire Protection 2006.

If you wish to create or maintain an APZ for an existing structure you may be required to obtain a Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate or other environmental approval. The NSW RFS offers a free assessment and certificate issuing service for private property in bush fire prone areas. Contact your local RFS Fire Control Centre for further information.

Infrastructure and built assets

Add infrastructure and built assets including residential buildings, farm and machinery sheds to your plan. Click on the green 'add' icon for each of the features in the panel next to the map to add them to your plan.

Use the Structural assets icon to add the structural assets to your property. Structural assets include houses, sheds, stockyards and other buildings. Click the first point you made again to close the shape and add further details as necessary.

Use the Power lines icon to identify any power lines that go through your property. Click the last point of the Power line to end and label.

Use the Fence lines icon to identify both internal and external fence lines on your property. These can include fences separating property boundaries as well as internal fences separating parcels of land. Click the last point of the fence line to end and label.

Use the Gates icon to identify and label each internal and external gate on your property. Include additional information e.g. 'always open' or 'locked'.

Use the Tracks and Trails icon to add these to your property. Click the last point on the track or trail to end and label. Include additional information e.g 'Public track'.

Water Features

Identify and map the water features on your property plan. Add both permanent and intermittent water features to your plan. This includes permanent and intermittent rivers and creeks as well as water tanks, troughs, dams and pumps.
For more help on mapping symbols refer to the Map Symbols section above.

Use the Pumps icon to add water pumps to your plan.

Use the Waterways icon to add both permanent and intermittent (temporary) rivers, creeks and drainage lines onto your plan.

Use the Water tanks icon to add water tanks to your plan. You can indicate if this is marked as a Static Water Supply (SWS) on your property for fire fighting purposes. For further details or to participate on this scheme please visit:

Use the Farm dams icon to add dams to your plan.

Vegetation Areas

It is important to identify which vegetation types you have on your property in order to complete your property fire management plan. A brief overview to each vegetation type can be found by clicking on the vegetation types in the table below. There is also information on recommended fire intervals which will be useful in the next section.

Vegetation Min Interval State Wide Max Interval State Wide Mapping Code
Alpine complex N/A N/A A
Arid Shrublands acacia subformation 10 N/A ASA
Arid Shrublands chenopod subformation N/A N/A ASC
Dry Sclerophyll Forest shrub subformation 7 30 DSFS
Dry Sclerophyll Forest shrub/grass subformation 5 50 DSFSG tbc
Forested Wetland 7 35 FW
Freshwater Wetland 7 35 W
Grassland 2 10 G
Grassy Woodland 5 40 GW
Heathland 7 30 H
Other (cleared) N/A N/A O
Other (landscaped/garden) N/A N/A O
Rainforest N/A N/A R
Saline Wetland N/A N/A SW
Semi-arid Woodland grassy subformation 6 N/A SAWG
Semi-arid Woodland shrubby subformation 10 N/A SAWS
Wet Sclerophyll Forest (grassy sub formation) 10 50 WSFG
Wet Sclerophyll Forest (shrubby sub formation) 25 60 WSFS

Knowing which vegetation types (called vegetation 'formations' by scientists) occur on your property and where they occur is important when it comes to planning appropriate fire intervals in the next steps. Vegetation types are based on those by David Keith in Ocean Shores to Desert Dunes: The Native Vegetation of New South Wales and the ACT. This book is rapidly becoming the benchmark for broad vegetation types in NSW. It provides a standard approach to keying out vegetation types, and is used by the NSW Rural Fire Service and Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW). For assistance with identification, try your local Landcare officer, Council environment staff, Local Land Services, or other sources of local vegetation expertise.

Identify each 'patch' of vegetation. Vegetation can include remnant vegetation, wetlands, native forest, vegetated creek lines, plantings, regeneration and regrowth. Label each vegetation area e.g. Grassland1 or G1. For assistance in identifying different vegetation types try your local Landcare officer, Council environmental staff, or local vegetation experts. For further information and materials see the help section.

Fire History

The fire history for your property is important information for guiding decisions regarding planned burns as well as how you might respond to unplanned fire (wildfire). Think about the different fire events on your property, going back further than the last fire if possible. This may be a fairly simple task or you may need to tell a more complex story of planned and unplanned fires on different parts of the property. Make notes about characteristics of the fire, for example, how intense the fire was, and the direction of the spread of the fire. Where possible record the date and extent of each fire. There are a number of ways you can understand the fire history of your property:

This information tells a story of past fire events on your property which is useful for devising fire management actions and strategies.

Area of previous fires (planned)

Use the Area of previous fires (planned) icon to mark any planned fire on your property. This includes any prescribed fires for hazard reduction or ecological purposes. Include the date and any other information you can on the fire.

Area of previous fires (unplanned)

Use the Area of previous fires (unplanned) feature to mark any unplanned fire on your property. Include the date and any other information you can on the fire.

Management Areas

This step focuses on breaking up your property into smaller, more manageable areas with similar objectives, called Management Areas.

Breaking your property into Management Areas allows you to plan what objectives you have for fire management on your property. When planning your Management Areas, think about what objectives you have for your land, what goals you have, and what actions you might undertake to achieve these goals.

Landholders often base the boundary of their Management Areas on natural boundaries in the landscape including changes in soil type, slope and vegetation cover or prominentnatural features such as drainage and ridge lines. You could also define your management area by land uses e.g. perennial pastures, plantation timber or horticulture. For instance, they could be areas set aside for winter grazing; areas sectioned off for conservation or patches of a particular vegetation type.

Some smaller properties may consist of a single area, whereas larger properties may consist of a number of areas. It is important to note that even though your property may be made up of one area, it doesn't mean that you are restricted to one particular land use within that single area. Thinking in terms of areas provides a framework for planning.

Use the Management areas icon to identify the areas which form distinct areas of management.

For each area identify Values and land use, Vegetation type, Recommended fire interval (auto populated), Objective and strategy, Action and Timeframe

Values and Land Use

The VALUES & LAND USE row provides space for you to make notes about land use and what values the area has for you. These may be things derived from your experience, or aspirations for this part of your property and can also include any concerns.

If there is anything significant about your vegetation, the VALUES & LAND USE row is a good place to make a note of it. This could include areas which have been given special status under various agreements.

Vegetation Type

Record the vegetation type from the drop down menu that occur in each particular management area based on the information mapped prior (e.g. Dry Sclerophyll Shrub Forest, or Freshwater Wetland, etc.).

Fire interval

Auto-populated from the vegetation types entered.

Disclaimer - the recommended fire frequency intervals are based on what scientists currently know about fire ecology, and will continue to be refined as more information comes to hand. Upper thresholds in particular are currently based on very limited data. The recommended fire intervals are given for Land Management Zones. LMZs should be managed so as to provide optimum fire frequencies required for the maintenance of biodiversity.

What are Fire Intervals?

These recommended intervals are based on the idea that to keep all species in a community, fire intervals should fall within an upper and a lower threshold. Lower thresholds are set to allow species vulnerable to frequent fire to remain in the community, while upper thresholds are determined by species vulnerable to lack of burning. Different plant communities have different thresholds because the species in them behave somewhat differently in relation to fire.

Refer to 'MANAGING FIRE ON YOUR PROPERTY: A booklet for landholders...' specific to your region...' for more information.

Action and Objective

Your OBJECTIVE is your aim, ACTIONS are things you plan to do to make these happen. Ask yourself, how am I going to tackle fire management here?

Where possible, aim for variability. Look for ways to vary fire in time, extent, intensity and season across the landscape, creating different patches (mosaics). Take your values as a landholder into account and refer to your map if you need to.

Think of your actions as your ideas - they are not set in stone and can be revised and improved at any time. Some examples of possible strategies include:

  1. Manage fuel loads
  2. Increase the frequency of fire to bring into line with the recommended fire interval range
  3. Allow for a burn soon because the last gap between fires was very long (even though it may have been within the recommendations)
  4. Allow a rest because history shows very frequent burning
  5. Allow a fire interval that is different from what my neighbours do
  6. Aim for patchiness in future fires since the last one burnt out a large area
  7. Aim for the next fire to only burn part of the remnant
  8. Minimise the chance of unplanned fire burning into the nearby rainforest gully
  9. Aim for the next fire to be a low intensity planned burn since the last one was a high intensity unplanned fire
  10. Aim for the next fire to be outside of spring since the last three fires were in spring.
Record your Time-Frame(s)

Note the TIME-FRAME in which the action should be carried out.

The ACTION row is for listing the specific things you plan to do. Ask yourself, what steps do I need to take to implement this strategy?

Note the TIME-FRAME in which the action should be carried out. Some examples of possible actions include:

Where the strategy is to manage fuels loads:

  1. Remove weeds
  2. Slash between grazing land and native vegetation to provide a fire control line
  3. Talk to neighbour about the possibility of a planned burn
  4. Burns should be carried out after the minimum interval, when fuel loads attain unacceptable levels
  5. Use grazing in certain conditions - e.g. outside orchid flowering time

Where your strategy is to increase the frequency of fire to bring into line with the recommended fire interval range:

  1. Consider unplanned fires
  2. Organise and carry out a planned burn
  3. Identify existing areas (e.g. roads, tracks) that could act as fire control lines
  4. Construct / relocate a fire control line
  5. Talk with the RFS about when and how to burn this area, as it is 30 years since it was last burnt
  6. Talk to neighbour about possibility of extending planned burn to the track in his back paddock, rather than putting in a control line at the property boundary
  7. Construct a control line between the two vegetation types.
Action Plan

Your fire management plan is almost complete. Review the actions and associated time-frames that have been auto-populated from each of your Management Areas, check they are correct and add any additional actions you wish.

For now, your Action Plan only covers native vegetation areas. In future, you have the option to expand this to encompass other - even all - areas of your property. For example, you may want to create an Asset Protection Zone around your house and use this format for recording actions relevant to creating and maintaining such a zone.


Mosaics are all about maintaining different parts of the landscape at different stages of post-fire development. Creating these 'patchworks' of different fire events in time and space has ecological advantages over 'burning the whole place at once'. Un-burnt patches become a refuge for animals during the fire, and provide food and shelter after the fire has passed. They also provide a base for some plant species to slowly recolonise burnt areas as these recover. Burnt patches may reduce the speed and intensity of future, unplanned fires; and can provide the boundaries for later patch burns.

Consider how you can break up your property so that you can burn bits at a time, utilising natural fire breaks where possible (e.g. previously burnt patches, gullies, etc). Or you might be able to better achieve a mosaic effect by working together with your neighbours - a great idea for smaller properties or larger properties which lack the resources to manage numerous areas differently. Even within a single vegetation type, it is a good idea to vary fire frequency over time and space to allow for the full range of species.