ANYONE careless with fire could be fined hundreds of dollars under new laws designed to help save lives and property.
As Tasmanians deal with one of the worst bushfire seasons in its history, a bill will be put before State Parliament so firefighters have the power to issue spot fines of up to $650 to people who light fires without a permit, or on total fire ban days.
The change to law would also punish people who throw cigarette butts out the car window, or who fail to properly extinguish a camp fire.
Over the past three financial years, firefighters were called to 197 out-of-control fires lit without a permit and 255 fires lit on days of total fire ban.
Firefighters are now unable to punish such offences when they are not serious enough to warrant prosecution through the courts.
It is a situation that has frustrated the Tasmanian Fire Service for years, and prompted Mersey MLC Mike Gaffney to draw up a private member's bill.
The proposed law would allow firefighters to issue on-the-spot warnings, fines and force offenders to attend compulsory fire safety training.
It would only end up in court if a fine was contested.
Mr Gaffney plans to introduce the bill when Parliament resumes next month.
"We want the TFS resources and energy focused on fighting fires, not chasing offenders through the court system," Mr Gaffney said.
"This bill ensures that will happen; effectively filling the gap and punishing offences that cannot quite be prosecuted successfully through the courts."
Nearly two years' of work has gone into the bill, which Mr Gaffney worked on in close consultation with the TFS and Police and Emergency Management Minister David O'Byrne.
TFS community fire safety director Damien Killalea said the proposed law should raise community awareness and formalise the lessons that firefighters already carry out with such offenders.
"The TFS anticipates that this bill will contribute to a reduction in minor offences, improve public safety and promote awareness of fire safety in the community," Mr Killalea said.
If it passes Parliament, the Fire Service Amendment (Fire Offences) Bill will not impact on the prosecution and sentencing of arsonists.
Meanwhile, the state government is yet to respond to a call from Tasmania's Sentencing Advisory Council for arsonists to pay the bill for putting out fires they deliberately lit. The recommendation is one of 13 that the council handed down in December, and which Attorney-General Brian Wightman is still considering.