Total Fire Ban declared in Muswellbrook, Singleton and Upper Hunter LGAs due to forecast hot and windy conditions

A TOTAL Fire Ban has been declared for the Greater Hunter on Sunday, due to forecast hot and windy conditions.

The "severe" rating was issued late on Saturday afternoon.

Starting from midnight, the ruling covers a number of councils on December 1 - the first day of summer - including: Cessnock, Dungog, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Muswellbrook, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Singleton and Upper Hunter.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) provides the following advice:

Under severe fire conditions:

* Well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety during a fire

* Follow your Bush Fire Survival Plan and remain vigilant

* Keep informed by listening to local radio, watching television news broadcasts and monitoring www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

No fires may be lit in the open and all permits are suspended during a Total Fire Ban.

Gas and electric barbeques may be used provided certain conditions are met.

The NSW RFS may also issue a Harvest Safety Alert for areas of heightened risk.

Operators should monitor conditions and regularly check that they are within guidelines.

Total Fire Ban rules and a map of current areas are listed at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au