Wood heaters, fire pits and smoke pollution

  • If you use a fire pit, chiminea or wood heater in Cardinia Shire, it’s important you follow the rules on this page.  
  • If not used properly, these items can cause excessive smoke that can harm people’s health and cause air pollution. They can also be a fire hazard.  
  • Here's how to report excessive smoke in your area, or coming from a single property. 

Council has strict rules on the use of fire pits and chimeneas.  

You can have an outdoor fire in the open air if: 

  • it’s for outdoor heating or cooking only 
  • it’s in a safe and properly-built device specifically designed for outdoor heating or cooking 
  • there’s at least 3 metres between the fire and any structure  
  • it doesn’t cause excessive smoke  
  • it’s never left unattended  
  • you have plenty of water on hand, ready to put the fire out.  

 Any other kind of outdoor fire will need to comply with our burning off rules 

Buying the right wood heater, using it correctly and maintaining it well can reduce wood smoke pollution.  

  • Use dry and seasoned timber – no waste timber, off cuts or fence posts    
    This ensures a clean, hot burn with minimal smoke. Source your firewood before it’s in high demand. This also gives you a chance to dry out ‘green’ timber that’s recently been cut down.  
  • Get the fire hot quickly with plenty of paper and small kindling 
    Keep air controls set high enough to keep your fire burning brightly. Only add new pieces of large seasoned wood when the fire is well established with a good bed of coals. Allow plenty of room for airflow around the wood. This will make the fire burn more efficiently, producing less smoke and saving you money. 
  • Get the flue of your fire cleaned  
    Especially if you can’t remember it having been done before. A build-up of soot can cause small fires in the flue to ignite. Soot build-up also affects the air flow and makes the fire a lot more smoky.  
  • Avoid overloading the heater or shutting off the air intake, even overnight  
    The fire should be kept hot whenever possible. Consider putting out the fire before going to bed to help your local area's pollution levels. But if you wish to keep the fire alight overnight, burn it on high for at least 20 minutes before retiring to bed to establish a good bed of hot coals. Also, avoid the temptation to overfill the fire place. Even if your wood heater goes out overnight while your family is sleeping, a well-insulated home should still be warm in the morning.

Read more hot tips for cleaner wood heating from the National Heritage Trust (reproduced by the SA Government)

Smoke can be a serious health hazard for some people, and is more likely to affect:  

  • those with heart or lung conditions 
  • pregnant women 
  • young children 
  • the elderly. 

More info: EPA website – Smoke and your health  

Report excessive smoke from a single property  

If you’re affected by smoke from a wood heater, fire pit or chimenea, try to talk to your neighbour first as they may not be aware of the problem. 

If this does not solve the issue, please report it to Council.  

You can report it online or call 1300 787 624  

Report excessive smoke in the area 

If there is excessive smoke in your general area, please report it to the EPA 

Contact our Environmental Health team 
Ph: 1300 787 624 
Email: mail@cardinia.vic.gov.au