28/07/2017 2:41 PM AEST | Updated 28/07/2017 6:32 PM AEST

Watch: The Shocking Moment Man Sets Himself Alight In Front Of Cops

Warning: Distressing footage.

Warning: The graphic footage below may be distressing to some readers.

Shocking footage has emerged of the moment a man doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire near Sydney's Central Station on Friday during an altercation with police.

It is understood the man, aged in his 30s, was protesting outside of a Department of Immigration building on Lee Street in the city's CBD before he set himself alight in front of several officers.

The footage shows the man sitting on the ground against a wall before bursting into flames. Several police then rush to his aid, including an officer holding a fire extinguisher.

NSW Police confirmed in a statement that officers were called to Lee Street at around 1:30pm and negotiated with the man for up to 10 minutes before he "doused himself in petrol".

"Police made attempts to negotiate however the man lit himself on fire. Police were ready with a fire extinguisher and extinguished the man. Fire & Rescue NSW then doused the man in water," the statement said.

"The man suffered superficial burns and is being treated at the scene."

Detective Superintendent David Donohue told a press conference on Friday afternoon that NSW Police are not at liberty to discuss the personal circumstances of the man but confirmed that he is known to authorities and experiences mental health issues.

"This incident demonstrates the brave police officers on a daily basis across this state responding to very difficult self-harm jobs from mental health patients and in each occasion our endeavour is to resolve these matters peacefully," he said.

"As you'd appreciate, this could have been a lot worse if police hadn't acted to quickly and put him out. He's currently in hospital being assessed both for his injuries and his mental health status.

"I'm not at liberty to discuss his personal circumstances at this stage, other than to say he was a deeply disturbed and upset individual."