Fire Danger Ratings

The fire danger rating is a standard scale used across Australia. It indicates how dangerous a fire would be if it started now.

The six fire danger ratings range from 'low' to 'catastrophic' in potential risk and show you when conditions are dangerous enough to initiate your bushfire survival plan. The ratings are signposted on roadside boards around the Northern Territory.

The ratings are forecast from Bureau of Meteorology data on factors like temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, fuel load and time since rain.

This table explains what each rating means in terms of fire behaviour and risks and what actions you need to take to protect yourself and your property in those conditions.

  Fire danger rating Fire behaviour and risks What you should do
Catastrophic
  • Fire will threaten without warning. It will be very hard to see, hear and breathe.
  • Fire may be uncontrollable and fast moving. Embers will start spot fires, often kilometres ahead of the main fire.
  • Strongly likely that unprepared people will suffer serious or life-threatening injury.
  • Property in the fire’s path is likely to be destroyed (even well-prepared homes).
  • Wide-scale power, telephone and water supply failure likely.
  • Do not expect a fire truck or firefighters to attend.
  • Enact your bushfire survival plan — survival is now your first priority.
  • Leave your property early in the day. It is not safe to stay and defend even the best-prepared property in catastrophic conditions.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio tuned to ABC local radio to keep updated with the situation throughout the day.
Extreme
  • Fire will threaten suddenly and it will be hot, windy and difficult to see, hear and breathe.
  • Fires will be fast moving and very difficult to control. Burning embers will start spot fires.
  • There is potential for property in the fire’s path or homes under ember attack to be lost.
  • People may suffer serious or life-threatening injury.
  • Only very well-prepared homes that are solidly constructed will be likely to offer any safety.
  • Expect power, telephone and water supply failure.
  • Do not expect a fire truck or firefighters to attend.
  • Enact your bushfire survival plan—survival is now your first priority.
  • If you are leaving your property, do so early in the day.
  • If your bushfire survival plan permits the decision to stay and defend your home, only do so if it is prepared to the highest level and constructed to withstand bushfire, and you are physically able to do so.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio tuned to ABC local radio to keep updated with the situation throughout the day.
Severe
  • Fires will burn unpredictably and may be difficult to control. Embers will be blown around.
  • It will be dangerous and uncomfortable to be outside.
  • There is potential for property in the fire’s path or homes under ember attack to be lost.
  • People may suffer serious or life-threatening injury.
  • Only very well-prepared homes that are solidly constructed will be likely to offer any safety.
  • Expect localised power, telephone and water supply failure.
  • Do not expect a fire truck or firefighters to attend.
  • Enact your bushfire survival plan—survival is now your first priority.
  • If you are leaving your property, do so early in the day.
  • If your bushfire survival plan permits the decision to stay and defend your home, only do so if it is prepared to the highest level and constructed to withstand bushfire, and you are physically able to do so.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio tuned to ABC local radio to keep updated with the situation throughout the day.
Very High
  • Fires can be difficult to control. Embers may be blown around.
  • Loss of property and injury is less likely, but significant damage could occur.
  • Well-prepared homes and substantial buildings can offer safe shelter.
  • Some local infrastructure may be temporarily unavailable.
  • Enact your bushfire survival plan.
  • If you are leaving your property, do so early in the day.
  • If your bushfire survival plan permits the decision to stay and defend your home, only do so if it is prepared to the highest level and constructed to withstand bushfire, and you are physically able to do so.
  • Listen to ABC local radio to keep updated throughout the day.
High
  • Fire can be controlled.
  • Loss of property is unlikely but damage may occur.
  • Well-prepared homes and substantial buildings can offer safe shelter.
  • Listen to ABC local radio to keep updated throughout the day.
  • Know how and where to get further information if required.
Low – Moderate
  • Fire can be easily controlled.
  • Little risk to life and property.
  • Listen to ABC local radio to keep updated throughout the day.
  • Know how and where to get further information if required.