Lighting flares poses a danger and a fire risk

6 December 2013

Member for Kiama Gareth Ward today said that boaters who intend to mark holiday celebrations this summer are on notice the illegal lighting of flares will not be tolerated.

Mr Ward said it is irresponsible and illegal to release flares unless in an emergency, with unplanned bushfires a possible consequence.

“Flares are a distress signal and when they are activated, trigger a series of emergency service responses which during false alarms are a waste of time and resources and can put people who are in real trouble at risk,” he said.

“Roads and Maritime Services Boating Safety Officers will be out on the water and National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers will carry out regular patrols of national park areas during summer to ensure there is no misuse of flares.

“Unplanned bushfires can pose major risk to people’s lives, property and to native wildlife.

“It is an offence to carry or use any explosive, flare or firework in a national park (maximum penalty is $3,300). The only exception is if the person is complying with NSW Maritime legislation and carrying flares as safety equipment for use in emergencies when boating.

“Under marine legislation those who activate a false distress signal can be fined up to $5,500.

“Safety regulations mean it is compulsory for people to carry flares aboard vessels when operating offshore.

“Boat owners must also ensure flares are replaced every three years, as after this time, there is no guarantee they will fire when needed. Flares must be replaced before they expire and old flares, which are classed as explosives, must be disposed of properly.

“Flares can be placed into special containers at nominated Roads and Maritime registries. The expired flares are then destroyed at ultra-high temperatures under strict environmental conditions,” Mr Ward said.

For further information on safety equipment please visit the website at

Phone 13 12 56 to check whether you can bring flares to your local registry.

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